Macroevolutionary speciation rates are decoupled from the evolution of intrinsic reproductive isolation in Drosophila and birds
Paper for next week's meeting!
The rate at which speciation occurs varies greatly among different kinds of organisms and is frequently assumed to result from species- or clade-specific factors that influence the rate at which populations acquire reproductive isolation. This premise leads to a fundamental prediction that has never been tested: Organisms that quickly evolve prezygotic or postzygotic reproductive isolation should have faster rates of speciation than organisms that slowly acquire reproductive isolation. We combined phylogenetic estimates of speciation rates from Drosophila and birds with a method for analyzing interspecific hybridization data to test whether the rate at which individual lineages evolve reproductive isolation predicts their macroevolutionary rate of species formation. We find that some lineages evolve reproductive isolation much more quickly than others, but this variation is decoupled from rates of speciation as measured on phylogenetic trees. For the clades examined here, reproductive isolation—especially intrinsic, postzygotic isolation—does not seem to be the rate-limiting control on macroevolutionary diversification dynamics. These results suggest that factors associated with intrinsic reproductive isolation may have less to do with the tremendous variation in species diversity across the evolutionary tree of life than is generally assumed.