Genetic change is a necessary component of speciation, but the relationship between rates of speciation and molecular evolution remains unclear. We use recent phylogenetic data to demonstrate a positive relationship between species numbers and the rate of neutral molecular evolution in flowering plants (in both plastid and nuclear genes). Rates of protein and morphological evolution also correlate with the neutral substitution rate, but not with species numbers. Our findings reveal a link between the rate of neutral molecular change within populations and the evolution of species diversity.
Corresponding Editor: D. Baum