Project Details


The processes of speciation have been matters of intense interest to
evolutionary biologists for over a century, yet remain enigmatic. Because
speciation is difficult to study as an active process, most work on the
subject involves the comparison of minimally divergent taxa, presumed to
have speciated only recently. Unfortunately, the morphological
discontinuities used to delimit even closely related species may not
develop until long after genetic radiation and reproductive isolation have
evolved. It seems probable that many currently defined 'morpho-species'
harbor cryptic complexes of sibling taxa, and if we are to understand
speciation better, we must move the study of genetic radiation to the level
of these vicariids. The purpose of this proposal is to develop
statistical/genetic techniques to improve our taxonomic resolution below
the 'morpho-species' level, and then evaluate these analytic tools on
simulated data sets and on a set of carefully chosen biological test cases,
where the existence of the sibling taxa can be inferred on other grounds.
There are numerous genera whose taxonomic and evolutionary elucidation
could profit from the improved resolution that should result from the
techniques being developed here. In addition, many genera of agricultural
of human health concern also harbor collections of troublesome sibling
taxa, and the ability to separate individuals on simple genetic evidence
could be of considerable utility for a variety of pest and disease vector
control programs.
Effective start/end date12/31/8912/31/89


  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences
  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences
  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences


  • Genetics


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