, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 255-261,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 14 Mar 2012

Goldilocks Meets Santa Rosalia: An Ephemeral Speciation Model Explains Patterns of Diversification Across Time Scales

Abstract

Understanding the rate at which new species form is a key question in studying the evolution of life on earth. Here we review our current understanding of speciation rates, focusing on studies based on the fossil record, phylogenies, and mathematical models. We find that speciation rates estimated from these different studies can be dramatically different: some studies find that new species form quickly and often, while others find that new species form much less frequently. We suggest that instead of being contradictory, differences in speciation rates across different scales can be reconciled by a common model. Under the “ephemeral speciation model”, speciation is very common and very rapid but the new species produced almost never persist. Evolutionary studies should therefore focus on not only the formation but also the persistence of new species.