Is sympatric speciation more important in the ocean? – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Is sympatric speciation more important in the ocean?

Xiaoyang Song


Pronouns: he/him/his

Research Mentor(s): James Saulsbury, Ph.D. candidate
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Earth and Environmental Sciences, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 1 (10am-10:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 19
Presenter: 3

Event Link


In evolutionary biology, the importance of geographical isolation and allopatric speciation has been emphasized for several decades. However, different from the terrestrial environment, there is no such absolute geographical barrier in the ocean because most marine species, even larvae, can easily disperse great distances due to its mobility and the ocean current. More sympatric speciation is expected in marine species since allopatric speciation is hard to realize in the ocean. This project mainly focuses on evaluating the importance of sympatric speciation in the ocean through analyzing the dataset that we created. The sympatric speciation requires range overlap rather than isolation. The importance of sympatry is evaluated by examining the range overlap among sister species in the ocean. Phylogenetic trees are constructed based on both morphological (i.e. character matrix) and genetic information (e.g. DNA sequences) using the Principle of Parsimony. Complete phylogenies and evolutionary tree of marine species are useful to identify the existing sister species pairs. Additionally, phylogenies are collected from articles published on academic journals and are selected based on its consistency with WoRMS. (World Register of Marine Species) Biogeographic data records the living range of existing species. Combining that with identified sister species pairs, the range overlap of certain marine sister pairs can be determined, and the pattern of sympatry is expected to be recognized. The result are compared with the importance of sympatry of terrestrial organisms to emphasize the significant role of sympatry in the ocean.

Authors: Xiaoyang Song, James Saulsbury
Research Method: Qualitative Study

lsa logoum logo