An Integrative Evolutionary Approach to Examine Sexual Selection as a Mechanism of Speciation Working Group Wiki
As evidenced by the growing number of publications and funded studies, the role that sexual selection can play in the process of speciation has gained widespread attention. However, empirical data are rapidly accumulating without a very clear theoretical framework for the likely role of sexual selection in the evolution of reproductive isolation. Our aim is to gain a comprehensive understanding of how divergent sexual selection can drive speciation by synthesizing published theoretical, empirical and comparative studies. First, theory related to the role that sexual selection can play in species formation need to be refined to offer very explicit predictions for both empirical and comparative data sets, especially accounting for the likely importance of sexual signals from different modalities (e.g., acoustic and visual signals). Second, to test for 'signatures' of a contributing role of sexual selection in speciation, we will work on a formal comparison of characteristics of signals that have diverged between sympatric and allopatric populations using easily accessible resources and our own data. Finally, we will conduct new comparative analyses bearing in mind the most likely sexual signals that are important for maintaining reproductive isolation; there are many phylogenies available for robust comparisons across a diversity of taxonomic groups. We are a diverse group of primarily early-career researchers many of whom have current NSF funding to examine the role of sexual selection in speciation. We plan to divide our larger working group into smaller sub-sets to efficiently make progress on all three objectives in the proposed two-year period.