Macroevolution pp 301-327 | Cite as

Speciation: Expanding the Role of Biogeography and Niche Breadth in Macroevolutionary Theory

  • Alycia L. Stigall
Part of the Interdisciplinary Evolution Research book series (IDER, volume 2)


Understanding the processes that control speciation is critical to building a comprehensive macroevolutionary synthesis. A variety of theoretical constructs have been proposed to explain various differential speciation patterns observed in the fossil record, such as higher rates of speciation among specialist versus generalist taxa. Most of these explanations, however, rely on only one or two explanatory variables and may be overly simplistic. Developing a more complete understanding of speciation processes requires a broader synthesis of multiple explanatory factors including the role of external factors such as climatic and tectonics, impact of ecosystem-level processes, relative niche breadth, and relative stability of species’ niches during environmental change (biotic and abiotic). This chapter explores the relationship between biogeography, ecological niches, and speciation in a series of case studies focused on Paleozoic (Late Ordovician and Late Devonian) shallow marine brachiopods and bivalves and Cenozoic (Neogene) horses of North America.


Ecological niche model Phylogeny Paleontology Invasion Ecology 



Thanks to Emanuele Serrelli for constructive comments on an earlier version of this paper and to the editors for the invitation to submit to this volume. Many students, particularly Hannah Brame, Nicole Dudei, Kaitlin Clare Maguire, Richard Malizia, Robert Swisher, Bradley Walls, and Davey Wright contributed to the development of the datasets described in the case studies. This research was supported by NSF EAR-0922067 and is a contribution to International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) 591.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geological Sciences and Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary StudiesOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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