General information

Module title The right tool for the job - some aspectsof ecological adaptations and speciation
Language English
Module lecturer prof. UAM dr hab. Iwona Melosik
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position profesor UAM
Faculty Faculty of Biology
Semester 2021/2022 (summer)
Duration 30


The course is organized as fifteen 2-hour (2 x 45 min) lectures during the spring semester. Day and time will be given immediately before the start of the course.

Module aim (aims)

The goal is to provide a comprehensive introduction to the patterns and processes in species formation. The course will emphasize the genetics, geography, and ecology of speciation. Theoretical concepts will be complemented by empirical studies across the Tree of Life.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)

General genetics


Detailed course schedule

Week 1 Populations as a unit of evolution - basic terms and concepts; Metapopulation model and dynamics 

Week 2. Markers and methods used in studies on speciation.  

Week 3-4 Speciation as a process linking micro-and macroevolution. 

Week 5. Genetic drift (causes and properties) and the speciation process.  

Week 6. Natural selection (requirements, types, consequences - types of adaptations). 

Week 7 Darwin's "Mystery of Mysteries" and Modern Synthesis.

Week 8 Barriers to Reproduction. The role of geography in the speciation process. 

Week 9 Ecological speciation.

Week 10: Speciation and hybridization. 

Week 11. The role of sexual selection in speciation. 

Week 12 Speciation and species identification.

Week 13 Speciation across the Tree of Life. 

Week 14 Genetics/Genomics: New directions in genetics in the study of speciation. 

Week 15 Summary. 


Reading list

Lecture scripts will be distributed in digital form during the course. Students interested in more detailed information will find lecture topics in the following publications:


Butlin, R. K., Galindo, J. & Grahame, J. W. Sympatric, parapatric or allopatric: The most important way to classify speciation? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363, 2997–3007 (2008).

Coyne, J. A. & Orr, H. A. Speciation. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2004.

Feder, J. L., Chilcote, C. A. & Bush, G. L. Genetic differentiation between sympatric host races of Rhagoletis pomonella. Nature 336, 61–64 (1988).

Hernández-Hernández T., Miller E.C., Román-Palacios C, Wiens, J.J. Speciation across the Tree of Life. Biol. Rev. 96, pp. 1205–1242. (2021),

Maan, M. E. & Seehausen, O. Mechanisms of species divergence through visual adaptation and sexual selection: Perspectives from a cichlid model system. Current Zoology 56, 285–299 (2010).

Mallet, J. et al. Space, sympatry and speciation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22, 2332–2341 (2009).

Matute, D.R., Cooper, B.S. Comparative studies on speciation: 30 years since Coyne and Orr. Evolution 75-4: 764–778 (2020). 

Mayr, E. & Provine, W. B. The Evolutionary Synthesis. Harvard, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.

Nosil, P., Crespi, B. J. & Sandoval, C. P. Host-plant adaptation drives the parallel evolution of reproductive isolation. Nature 417, 440–443 (2002).

Nosil, P., Harmon, L. J. & Seehausen, O. Ecological explanations for (incomplete) speciation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 24, 145–156 (2009).

Nosil, P., Funk, D. J. & Ortíz-Barrientos, D. Divergent selection and heterogeneous genomic divergence. Molecular Ecology 18, 375–402 (2009).

Panhuis, T. M. et al. Sexual selection, and speciation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 16, 364–371 (2001)

Ritchie, M. G. Sexual selection and speciation. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 38, 79–102 (2007).

Rundle, H. D. & Nosil, P. Ecological speciation. Ecology Letters 8, 336–352 (2005).

Schluter, D. Ecology and the origin of species. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 16, 372–380 (2001).

Schluter, D. Evidence for ecological speciation and its alternative. Science 323, 737–741 (2009).

Seehausen, O. et al. Speciation through sensory drive in cichlid fish. Nature 455, 620–626 (2008).

Sukumaran J, Holder MT, Knowles LL Incorporating the speciation process into species delimitation. PLoS Comput Biol 17(5), (2021): e1008924. pcbi.1008924