Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 23
  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: June 2012

14 - Speciation, extinction and diversity


Biologists have long endeavoured to understand variation in the number of species over the surface of the earth, but have not reached a general consensus on the causes of observed patterns. Early explanations focused on history, including the effects of Ice Age climate change on diversity at northern latitudes (Wallace 1878) and the age and area of a region (Willis 1922). Paleontologists have used the fossil record to characterize vicissitudes of diversity through time, particularly the effects of catastrophic events and the replacement of older taxa by newer forms (Simpson 1944, 1953; Stanley 1979). Beginning in the 1960s, ecologists emphasized the ability of species to coexist locally in communities of interacting species, largely ignoring the effects of history (Kingsland 1985; Ricklefs 1987) and explaining variation in diversity in terms of the ability of environments to support interacting populations (MacArthur & Levins 1967; MacArthur 1970; Vandermeer 1972; May 1975). This approach proved to be compelling, and paleontologists soon integrated population thinking in their work, constructing models of diversification to explain patterns in taxon richness through time (Raup & Gould 1974). MacArthur and Wilson's (1967) equilibrium theory of island biogeography was influential in this regard, particularly the application of models of species formation and extinction within regions to understand both long-term stasis in diversity and variation in diversity at global scales (Rosenzweig 1995).

Alroy, J. (1998) Equilibrial diversity dynamics in North American mammals. In: Biodiversity Dynamics. Turnover of Populations, Taxa, and Communities (ed. McKinney, M. L.), pp. 232–287. Columbia University Press, New York.
Alroy, J. (2000) Successive approximations of diversity curves: ten more years in the library. Geology 28, 1023–1026.
,Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (1998) An ordinal classification for the families of flowering plants. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 85, 531–553.
Bailey, N. T. J. (1964) The Elements of Stochastic Processes with Applications to the Natural Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Barraclough, T. G. and Nee, S. (2001) Phylogenetics and speciation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 16, 391–399.
Barraclough, T. G., Vogler, A. P. and Harvey, P. H. (1998) Revealing the factors that promote speciation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 353, 241–249.
Barraclough, T. G., Vogler, A. P. and Harvey, P. H. (1999) Revealing the factors that promote speciation. In: Evolution of Biological Diversity (ed. Magurran, A. E. and May, R. M.), pp. 202–219. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Benton, M. J. and Donoghue, P. C. J. (2007) Paleontological evidence to date the tree of life. Molecular Biology & Evolution 24, 26–53.
Bininda-Emonds, O. R. P., Cardillo, M., Jones, K. E., et al. (2007) The delayed rise of present-day mammals. Nature 446, 507–512.
Bokma, F. (2003) Testing for equal rates of cladogenesis in diverse taxa. Evolution 57, 2469–2474.
Cox, G. W. and Ricklefs, R. E. (1977) Species diversity, ecological release, and community structuring in Caribbean land bird faunas. Oikos 29, 60–66.
Currie, D. J., Mittelbach, G. G., Cornell, H. V., et al. (2004) Predictions and tests of climate-based hypotheses of broad-scale variation in taxonomic richness. Ecology Letters 7, 1121–1134.
Donoghue, P. C. J. and Benton, M. J. (2007) Rocks and clocks: calibrating the Tree of Life using fossils and molecules. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22, 424–431.
Fine, P. V. A. and Ree, R. H. (2006) Evidence for a time-integrated species-area effect on the latitudinal gradient in tree diversity. American Naturalist 168, 796–804.
Fjeldså, J. (1994) Geographical patterns for relict and young species of birds in Africa and South-America and implications for conservation priorities. Biodiversity & Conservation 3, 207–226.
Foote, M. (1993) Discordance and concordance between morphological and taxonomic diversity. Paleobiology 19, 185–204.
Foote, M. (2000) Origination and extinction components of taxonomic diversity: Paleozoic and post-Paleozoic dynamics. Paleobiology 26, 578–605.
Haesler, M. P. and Seehausen, O. (2005) Inheritance of female mating preference in a sympatric sibling species pair of Lake Victoria cichlids: implications for speciation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 272, 237–245.
Harvey, P. H., May, R. M., and Nee, S. (1994) Phylogenies without fossils. Evolution 48, 523–529.
Harvey, P. H., Nee, S., Mooers, A.Ø. and Partridge, L. (1991). These hierarchical views of life: phylogenies and metapopulations. In: Genes in Ecology (ed. Berry, R. J., Crawford, T. J. and Hewitt, G.M.), pp. 127–137. Blackwell Scientific, Oxford.
Head, D. A. and Rodgers, G. J. (1997) Speciation and extinction in a simple model of evolution. Physical Review E 55, 3312–3319.
Hey, J. (1992) Using phylogenetic trees to study speciation and extinction. Evolution 46, 627–640.
Hubbell, S. P. (2001) The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Hudson, R. R. (1990) Gene genealogies and the coalescent process. Oxford Surveys in Evolutionary Biology 7, 1–44.
Jaramillo, C., Rueda, M. J. and Mora, G. (2006) Cenozoic plant diversity in the Neotropics. Science 311, 1893–1896.
Kingsland, S. E. (1985) Modeling Nature. Episodes in the History of Population Ecology. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Kozak, K. H., Larson, A. A., Bonett, R. M. and Harmon, L. J. (2005) Phylogenetic analysis of ecomorphological divergence, community structure, and diversification rates in dusky salamanders (Plethodontidae: Desmognathus). Evolution 59, 2000–2016.
Kozak, K. H., Weisrock, D. W. and Larson, A. (2006) Rapid lineage accumulation in a non-adaptive radiation: phylogenetic analysis of diversification rates in eastern North American woodland salamanders (Plethodontidae: Plethodon). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 273, 539–546.
Latham, R. E. and Ricklefs, R. E. (1993). Continental comparisons of temperate-zone tree species diversity. In: Species Diversity: Historical and Geographical Perspectives (ed. Ricklefs, R. E. and Schluter, D.), pp. 294–314. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Leroy, J.-F. (1978) Composition, origin and affinities of the Madagascan vascular flora. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 65, 535–589.
Linder, H. P., Hardy, C. R. and Rutschmann, F. (2005) Taxon sampling effects in molecular clock dating: an example from the African Restionaceae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 35, 569–582.
Lovette, I. J. and Bermingham, E. (1999) Explosive speciation in the New World Dendroica warblers. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 266, 1629–1636.
Lupia, R., Lidgard, S. and Crane, P. R. (1999) Comparing palynological abundance and diversity: implications for biotic replacement during the Cretaceous angiosperm radiation. Paleobiology 25, 305–340.
MacArthur, R. H. (1970) Species packing and competitive equilibrium for many species. Theoretical Population Biology 1, 1–11.
MacArthur, R. H. and Levins, R. (1967) The limiting similarity, convergence, and divergence of coexisting species. American Naturalist 101, 377–385.
MacArthur, R. H. and Wilson, E. O. (1967) The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Magallón, S. and Sanderson, M. J. (2001) Absolute diversification rates in angiosperm clades. Evolution 55, 1762–1780.
May, R. M. (1975) Patterns of species abundance and diversity. In: Ecology and Evolution of Communities (ed. Cody, M. L. and Diamond, J. M.), pp. 81–120. Belnap Press, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
McPeek, M. A. and Brown, J. M. (2007) Clade age and not diversification rate explains species richness among animal taxa. American Naturalist 169, E97–E106.
Miles, D. B. and Ricklefs, R. E. (1984) The correlation between ecology and morphology in deciduous forest passerine birds. Ecology 65, 1629–1640.
Mittelbach, G. G., Schemske, D. W., Cornell, H. V., et al. (2007) Evolution and the latitudinal diversity gradient: speciation, extinction and biogeography. Ecology Letters 10, 315–331.
Nee, S. (2001) Inferring speciation rates from phylogenies. Evolution 55, 661–668.
Nee, S. (2006) Birth-death models in macroevolution. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution & Systematics 37, 1–17.
Nee, S., May, R. M. and Harvey, P. H. (1994) The reconstructed evolutionary process. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 344, 305–311.
Nee, S., Mooers, A. O. and Harvey, P. H. (1992) Tempo and mode of evolution revealed from molecular phylogenies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 89, 8322–8326.
Phillimore, A. B., Freckleton, R. P., Orme, C. D. L. and Owens, I. P. F. (2006) Ecology predicts large-scale patterns of phylogenetic diversification in birds. American Naturalist 168, 220–229.
Price, T. (2008) Speciation in Birds. Roberts and Company, Greenwood Village, CO.
Purvis, A., Nee, S. and Harvey, P. H. (1995) Macroevolutionary inferences from primate phylogeny. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 260, 329–333.
Pybus, O. G. and Harvey, P. H. (2000) Testing macro-evolutionary models using incomplete molecular phylogenies. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 267, 2267–2272.
Rabosky, D. L. (2006) Likelihood methods for detecting temporal shifts in diversification rates. Evolution 60, 1152–1164.
Raup, D. M. and Gould, S. J. (1974) Stochastic simulation and evolution of morphology – towards a nomothetic paleontology. Systematic Zoology 23, 305–322.
Raup, D. M., Gould, S. J., Schopf, T. J. M. and Simberloff, D. S. (1973) Stochastic models of phylogeny and the evolution of diversity. Journal of Geology 81, 525–542.
Renner, S. S. (2005) Relaxed molecular clocks for dating historical plant dispersal events. Trends in Plant Science 10, 550–558.
Renner, S. S., Balslev, H. and Holm-Nielsen, L. B. (1990) Flowering plants of Amazonian Ecuador – a checklist. AAU Reports 24, 1–241.
Ricklefs, R. E. (1987) Community diversity: relative roles of local and regional processes. Science 235, 167–171.
Ricklefs, R. E. (2003) Global diversification rates of passerine birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 270, 2285–2291.
Ricklefs, R. E. (2004) Cladogenesis and morphological diversification in passerine birds. Nature 430, 338–341.
Ricklefs, R. E. (2005a) Phylogenetic perspectives on patterns of regional and local species richness. In: Tropical Rainforests. Past, Present, and Future (ed. Bermingham, E., Dick, C. W. and Moritz, C.), pp. 16–40. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
Ricklefs, R. E. (2005b) Small clades at the periphery of passerine morphological space. American Naturalist 165, 43–659.
Ricklefs, R. E. (2006a) Global variation in the diversification rate of passerine birds. Ecology 87, 2468–2478.
Ricklefs, R. E. (2006b) The unified neutral theory of biodiversity: do the numbers add up? Ecology 87, 1424–1431.
Ricklefs, R. E. (2007) Estimating diversification rates from phylogenetic information. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22, 601–610.
Ricklefs, R. E., Losos, J. B. and Townsend, T. M. (2007) Evolutionary diversification of clades of squamate reptiles. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 20, 1751–1762.
Ricklefs, R. E. and Miles, D. B. (1994) Ecological and evolutionary inferences from morphology: an ecological perspective. In: Ecological Morphology: Integrative Organismal Biology (ed. Wainwright, P. C. and Reilly, S. M.), pp. 13–41. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Ricklefs, R. E. and Renner, S. S. (1994) Species richness within families of flowering plants. Evolution 48, 1619–1636.
Ricklefs, R. E. and Schluter, D. (eds) (1993) Species Diversity in Ecological Communities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Robinson, W. D., Brawn, J. D. and Robinson, S. K. (2000) Forest bird community structure in central Panama: influence of spatial scale and biogeography. Ecological Monographs 70, 209–235.
Rosenzweig, M. L. (1975) On continental steady states of species diversity. In: Ecology and Evolution of Communities (ed. Cody, M. L. and Diamond, J. M.), pp. 121–140. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Rosenzweig, M. L. (1995) Species Diversity in Space and Time. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Schluter, D. (2000) The Ecology of Adaptive Radiation. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Sepkoski, J. J. (1979) A kinematic model of Phanerozoic taxonomic diversity II. Early Phanerozoic families and multiple equilibria. Paleobiology 5, 222–251.
Sepkoski, J. J. (1998) Rates of speciation in the fossil record. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 353, 315–326.
Sibley, C. G. and Ahlquist, J. E. (1990) Phylogeny and Classification of the Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Sibley, C. G. and Monroe, B. L. (1990) Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Simpson, G. G. (1944) Tempo and Mode in Evolution. Columbia University Press, New York.
Simpson, G. G. (1953) The Major Features of Evolution. Columbia University Press, New York.
Slowinski, J. B. and Guyer, C. (1989) Testing the stochasticity of patterns of organismal diversity: an improved null model. American Naturalist 134, 907–921.
Slowinski, J. B. and Guyer, C. (1993) Testing whether certain traits have caused amplified diversification: an improved method based on a model of random speciation and extinction. American Naturalist 142, 1019–1024.
Stanley, S. M. (1979) Macroevolution: Pattern and Process. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco.
Stotz, D. F., Fitzpatrick, J. W., Parker, T. A., III. and Moskovits, D. K. (1996) Neotropical Birds. Ecology and Conservation. With Ecological and Distributional Databases by Theodore A. Parker III, Douglas F. Stotz, and John W. Fitzpatrick. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
Stuckey, R. K. (1990) Evolution of land mammal diversity in North America during the Cenozoic. Current Mammalogy 2, 375–432.
Terborgh, J., Robinson, S. K., Parker, T. A., Munn, C. A. and Pierpont, N. (1990) Structure and organization of an Amazonian forest bird community. Ecological Monographs 60, 213–238.
Thiollay, J.-M. (1994) Structure, density and rarity in an Amazonian rainforest bird community. Journal of Tropical Ecology 10, 449–481.
Vandermeer, J. H. (1972) Niche theory. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 3, 107–132.
Valkenburgh, B. and Janis, C. M. (1993) Historical diversity patterns in North American large herbivores and carnivores. In: Species Diversity in Ecological Communities. Historical and Geographical Perspectives (ed. Ricklefs, R. E. and Schluter, D.), pp. 330–340. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Wallace, A. R. (1878) Tropical Nature and Other Essays. Macmillan, New York and London.
Weir, J. T. (2006) Divergent timing and patterns of species accumulation in lowland and highland neotropical birds. Evolution 60, 842–855.
Weir, J. T. and Schluter, D. (2007) The latitudinal gradient in recent speciation and extinction rates of birds and mammals. Science 315, 1574–1576.
Whitmore, T. C. (ed.) (19721973) Tree Flora of Malaya. A Manual for Foresters. Volumes 1 and 2. Longman Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.
Wiens, J. J. and Donoghue, M. J. (2004) Historical biogeography, ecology and species richness. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 19, 639–644.
Wiens, J. J., Graham, C. H., Moen, D. S., Smith, S. A. and Reeder, T. W. (2006) Evolutionary and ecological causes of the latitudinal diversity gradient in hylid frogs: treefrog trees unearth the roots of high tropical diversity. American Naturalist 168, 579–596.
Willis, J. C. (1922) Age and Area. A Study in Geographical Distribution and Origin of Species. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Wilson, M. V. H. (1983) Is there a characteristic rate of radiation for insects? Paleobiology 9, 79–85.
Wing, S. L. and Harrington, G. J. (2001) Floral response to rapid warming in the earliest Eocene and implications for concurrent faunal change. Paleobiology 27, 539–563.
Won, H. and Renner, S. S. (2006) Dating dispersal and radiation in the gymnosperm Gnetum (Gnetales) – clock calibration when outgroup relationships are uncertain. Systematic Biology 55, 610–622.