IOS – Integration of speciation research

Spe­ci­ation research has pro­gressed mainly through the accu­mu­la­tion of indi­vidu­al case stud­ies, many of which focused on a few mod­el sys­tems. Although this has led to sig­ni­fic­ant insights, we still lack a broad com­par­at­ive frame­work that could inform us about gen­er­al pat­terns and pro­cesses under­ly­ing spe­ci­ation. Yet, clas­sic work, includ­ing for example Coyne & Orr stud­ies of Dro­so­phila, clearly demon­strates the poten­tial value of syn­thes­iz­ing inform­a­tion across studies.

Spe­ci­ation involves the evol­u­tion of repro­duct­ive isol­a­tion (RI) through the accu­mu­la­tion of bar­ri­ers to gene exchange. Evol­u­tion­ary pro­cesses like nat­ur­al selec­tion and drift (includ­ing muta­tion order effects) can lead to the evol­u­tion of extrins­ic (envir­on­ment-depend­ent) and intrins­ic bar­ri­ers. Although these pro­cesses and bar­ri­er types have been iden­ti­fied in indi­vidu­al taxa, a gen­er­al pic­ture of their rel­at­ive import­ance and tim­ing of appear­ance is lack­ing. Sim­il­arly, much effort has been ded­ic­ated in indi­vidu­al sys­tems to map gen­om­ic regions con­tain­ing bar­ri­er loci with gen­om­ic tech­niques (e.g. gen­ome scans). How­ever, to com­pare genet­ic archi­tec­tures across stud­ies, we need to acknow­ledge the tech­nic­al issues with gen­ome scans and identi­fy best prac­tices for com­par­at­ive ana­lyses. Finally, there is a press­ing need for a uni­fy­ing frame­work across scales that allows us to under­stand how pop­u­la­tion-level pro­cesses shape mac­ro­e­volu­tion­ary pat­terns of diversity at broad­er taxo­nom­ic and spa­tial scales. 

Aims of IOS:

Since many spe­ci­ation stud­ies have now been con­duc­ted in non-mod­el organ­isms, the time is ripe for a syn­thes­is. The broad aim of IOS is to move spe­ci­ation research towards mak­ing great­er use of sys­tem­at­ic and com­par­at­ive ana­lyses across stud­ies and sys­tems. IOS has four object­ives that focus on areas of act­ive spe­ci­ation research:

i) To under­stand the rel­at­ive import­ance of dif­fer­ent bar­ri­ers to gene flow and out­line best prac­tices to meas­ure them.

ii) To sur­vey the role of inter­ac­tions and coup­ling between bar­ri­ers in increas­ing RI.

iii) To seek com­mon gen­om­ic pat­terns under­ly­ing bar­ri­ers as RI increases.

iv) To bridge the know­ledge gap between what is known of spe­ci­ation mech­an­isms at a micro­e­volu­tion­ary scale and the know­ledge of spe­ci­ation rates & their determ­in­ants at a mac­ro­e­volu­tion­ary scale.

IOS will pro­mote a frame­work for integ­rat­ive spe­ci­ation research and devel­op tools for com­par­at­ive ana­lyses. We will out­line best prac­tices for data gen­er­a­tion and ana­lys­is (such as con­sist­ent meth­ods for quan­ti­fic­a­tion of repro­duct­ive isol­a­tion), encour­age data shar­ing, and per­form com­par­at­ive ana­lyses of exist­ing spe­ci­ation stud­ies from across the tree of life. To this end, we will set up a spe­ci­ation data­base. This can be used for com­par­at­ive spe­ci­ation stud­ies and will con­sist of data on com­pon­ents of RI. We also plan to organ­ize work­shops and run a reg­u­lar online sem­in­ar dis­cus­sion. Con­tri­bu­tions to soci­ety journ­als are planned (e.g. a pub­lic­a­tion on data stand­ards in spe­ci­ation research and a Spe­cial Issue draw­ing togeth­er syn­thet­ic ana­lyses and com­par­at­ive work).

For more inform­a­tion con­tact:


Twit­ter: @Speciation_net

Com­mit­tee Chairs:
Jonna Kul­muni, Organis­mal and Evol­u­tion­ary Bio­logy, Uni­ver­sity of Hel­sinki, Fin­land.
Chris Cooney, Eco­logy and Evol­u­tion­ary Bio­logy, School of Bios­ciences, Shef­field, UK.
Sean Stankowski, Insti­tute of Sci­ence and Tech­no­logy (IST), Aus­tria.
Car­ole Smadja, CNRS, Insti­tut des Sci­ences de l’Evolution de Mont­pel­li­er (ISEM), France.

Organ­iz­ing com­mit­tee:
Nick Bar­ton (Treas­urer), Insti­tute of Sci­ence and Tech­no­logy (IST), Aus­tria.
Son­al Sing­hal (Diversity and inclu­sion officer), Depart­ment of Bio­logy, CSU Domin­guez Hills, USA.
Roger But­lin, Eco­logy and Evol­u­tion­ary Bio­logy, School of Bios­ciences, Shef­field, UK, and Depart­ment of Mar­ine Sci­ences, Uni­ver­sity of Gothen­burg, Sweden.
Joana Mei­er, Depart­ment of Zoology, Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge, UK.
Richard Mer­rill, Divi­sion of Evol­u­tion­ary Bio­logy, Fac­ulty of Bio­logy, LMU, Munich, Ger­many.
Kon­rad Lohse, Insti­tute of Evol­u­tion­ary Bio­logy, Uni­ver­sity of Edin­burgh, UK.
Liz Scord­ato, Depart­ment of Bio­lo­gic­al Sci­ences, Cali­for­nia State Poly­tech­nic Uni­ver­sity, Pomona, CA, USA.