Adaptation and self-organization in spatial models of speciation
Last modified: May 29, 2006
The role of spatial interactions in speciation has been a controversial topic in evolutionary theory for over sixty years, but only recently have spatial simulation techniques allowed us to investigate evolutionary hypotheses directly. Here, I present findings from cellular automata and agent-based spatial models of speciation. Simulation results reveal that adaptive speciation in spatially realistic conditions involves several processes characteristic of complex systems, including positive feedback, self-organization, criticality and the evolution of modularity. These processes can facilitate speciation. The findings may explain puzzling empirical patterns, such as cryptic species and the scarcity of empirical evidence for character displacement during adaptive radiation. They imply that speciation can be understood as module formation in a complex adaptive system, and suggest that speciation theory may offer insights into modularity and diversification in other systems.