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Island Biogeography and Evolution: Genetic Divergence and Speciation of Island Taxa

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Island populations serve as important models in ecological and evolutionary theory because of their simplicity. The ecological theory of island biogeography has been well developed and generally well supported. However, the processes important at the ecological level, such as immigration and extinction, also have evolutionary ramifications. Recent extensions of the ecological theory of island biogeography to the evolutionary scale suggest that populations on large and distant islands should be more genetically divergent from mainland populations than populations on small and close islands. When speciation is included in the model, large and distant islands should have a higher fraction of endemic species. These predictions are largely borne out, but need further testing. The small population sizes on islands also have ramifications for the accumulation of mutations and species radiations. The integration of ecological and evolutionary theories of island biogeography holds tremendous promise for understanding the origin and evolution of island biotas.
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Keywords: endemism; island biogeography; migration; population genetics; speciation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, Illinois, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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