[MARMAM] New publication - Ecological speciation in killer whales

Andy Foote footead at gmail.com
Mon Aug 13 07:16:27 PDT 2012

Dear colleagues,

A special issue of Evolutionary Ecology Research edited by Andrew Hendry
and based on work presented at the Niche Theory and Speciation workshop
held in Hungary almost one year ago is now available to access online ahead
of final publication: http://www.evolutionary-ecology.com/forthcoming.html

The special issue includes the following review paper in addition to other
contributions from the likes of Dan Bolnick, Ole Seehausen, and Patrick
Nosil, and should be of interest to those working on evolution and

Please contact me if you have any difficulty accessing the article.

Foote, A.D. (2012) Investigating ecological speciation in non-model
organisms: a case study on killer whale ecotypes. Evolutionary Ecology
Research (http://www.evolutionary-ecology.com/issues/forthcoming/ar2727.pdf)


BACKGROUND: Studies of ecological speciation have been dominated by a few
model biological systems. There are comparably few studies on non-model
organisms that have been able to robustly infer ecological speciation as
the underlying mechanism of evolutionary divergence.
QUESTION: What are the pitfalls in studying ecological speciation in
non-model organisms that lead to this bias? and what alternative approaches
might redress the balance?
ORGANISM: Genetically differentiated types of the killer whale (*Orcinus
orca*) exhibiting differences in prey preference, habitat use, morphology
and behavior.
METHODS: I review the literature on killer whale evolutionary ecology to
highlight the difficulty of identifying whether there are causal links
between variation in phenotype, ecology and reproductive isolation in this
non-model organism.
RESULTS: I suggest that there is currently insufficient evidence to suggest
that adaptive phenotype traits linked to ecological variation underlie
reproductive isolation between sympatric killer whale types. This does not
mean that ecological speciation has not occurred, but rather that it is
hard to conclusively prove. The constraints on studying non-model organisms
means that this is the likely outcome in studies of species that
experimental approaches and comparative studies among multiple taxon pairs
cannot easily be applied to. New genomic approaches that first identify
genes under selection and then link alleles to phenotypic differences and
reproductive isolation may increase the success of robustly inferring
ecological speciation in non-model organisms.

Best regards,



*Dr Andrew Foote*
*Centre for GeoGenetics*
The Natural History Museum of Denmark
Øster Voldgade 5 - 7
1350 Copenhagen K
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