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Marine Speciation

Course Numbers: OCMB - 6450, MEVS - 5080, and  BMME - 8030

Speciation is fundamental to evolutionary biology and is the process by which new biological species arise. We have only recently begun to understand the process of speciation in marine organisms. Few extrinsic barriers to gene flow exist in the sea; therefore, marine speciation challenges the idea of allopatric speciation (new species only arise when populations are geographically isolated).

This course will review the evolutionary concepts associated with the process of speciation, with a particular emphasis on the mechanisms of speciation. We will then delve into the primary literature to examine and critique speciation studies in marine organisms. Topics covered in this course include as they relate to marine organisms: biodiversity, modes of speciation, reproductive isolation, species concepts, mate recognition, natural selection, cospeciation, sexual conflict, sexual selection, and reinforcement. At the very least, students should have a basic understanding of evolution prior to taking this course.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • describe the species concepts, modes of speciation, marine barriers to gene flow, and mechanisms of reproductive isolation
  • understand the challenges of study speciation in the sea and the differences between terrestrial and marine mechanisms of speciation
  • obtain the background necessary to understand and critique the primary literatur
  • gain an overview of the process of speciation
  • e on speciation in the ocean


J. A. Coyne and H. A. Orr. Speciation. Sinauer, 2004. (C&O) ISBN: 9780878930890

Winter 2014 Syllabus

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