The Role of Parasitism in Adaptive Radiations - When Might Parasites Promote and When Might They Constrain Ecological Speciation?

Karvonen, Anssi; Seehausen, Ole (2012). The Role of Parasitism in Adaptive Radiations - When Might Parasites Promote and When Might They Constrain Ecological Speciation? International journal of ecology, 2012(280169), pp. 1-20. New York, N.Y.: Hindawi Publishing Corporation 10.1155/2012/280169

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Research on speciation and adaptive radiation has flourished during the past decades, yet factors underlying initiation of reproductive isolation often remain unknown. Parasites represent important selective agents and have received renewed attention in speciation research. We review the literature on parasite-mediated divergent selection in context of ecological speciation and present empirical evidence for three nonexclusive mechanisms by which parasites might facilitate speciation: reduced viability or fecundity of immigrants and hybrids, assortative mating as a pleiotropic by-product of host adaptation, and ecologically-based sexual selection. We emphasise the lack of research on speciation continuums, which is why no study has yet made a convincing case for parasite driven divergent evolution to initiate the emergence of reproductive isolation. We also point interest towards selection imposed by single vs. multiple parasite species, conceptually linking this to strength and multifariousness of selection. Moreover, we discuss how parasites, by manipulating behaviour or impairing sensory abilities of hosts, may change the form of selection that underlies speciation. We conclude that future studies should consider host populations at variable stages of the speciation process, and explore recurrent patterns of parasitism and resistance that could pinpoint the role of parasites in imposing the divergent selection that initiates ecological speciation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Aquatic Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Seehausen, Ole


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




Hindawi Publishing Corporation




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:41

Last Modified:

08 Jun 2016 10:34

Publisher DOI:




URI: (FactScience: 224253)

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