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A Model of Sympatric Speciation Through Reinforcement

Journal article
Authors J. Henriksson
Torbjörn Lundh
Bernt Wennberg
Published in Kinetic and Related Models
Volume 3
Issue 1
Pages 143-163
ISSN 1937-5093
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Mathematical Sciences, Mathematics
Pages 143-163
Language en
Keywords Speciation, Evolution, Simulation, structured populations, phenotypic plasticity, premating isolation, sexual selection, evolution, displacement, adaptation, hybrids
Subject categories Applied mathematics


Sympatric speciation, i.e. the evolutionary split of one species into two in the same environment, has been a highly troublesome concept. It has been a questioned if it is actually possible. Even though there have been a number of reported results both in the wild and from controlled experiments in laboratories, those findings are both hard to get and hard to analyze, or even repeat. In the current study we propose a mathematical model which addresses the question of sympatric speciation and the evolution of reinforcement. Our aim has been to capture some of the essential features such as: phenotype, resources, competition, heritage, mutation, and reinforcement, in as simple a way as possible. Still, the resulting model is not too easy to grasp with purely analytical tools, so we have also complemented those studies with stochastic simulations. We present a few results that both illustrates the usefulness of such a model, but also rises new biological questions about sympatric speciation and reinforcement in particular.

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