General information

Course type AMUPIE
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 professor UAM
Faculty Faculty of Biology
Semester 2024/2025 (summer)
Duration 30


The course is organised as fifteen 2-hour lectures (2 x 45 min) during the spring semester. The day and time will be announced just before the course starts.

Module aim (aims)

The aim is to provide a broad introduction to the patterns and processes of speciation. The course will emphasise 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 units of evolution - basic terms and concepts; metapopulation model and dynamics.

Week 2. Markers and methods used in speciation studies.

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

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

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

Week 7 Darwin's "mystery of mysteries" and the modern synthesis.

Week 8. Barriers to reproduction. The role of geography in speciation.

Week 9 Ecological speciation.

Week 10: Speciation and hybridisation.

Week 11. The role of sexual selection in the process of speciation.

Week 12 Speciation and species identification.

Week 13 Speciation across the tree of life.

Week 14 Genetics/genomics: New ways of using genetics to study speciation.

Week 15 Summary.


Reading list

Lecture notes will be distributed in digital form during the course. Students interested in more detailed information can find the 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