Competitive speciation


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215 Scopus citations


A new mode of speciation, competitive speciation, is suggested. It assumes that fitness is depressed by the density of a phenotype's competitors, and that the adaptive landscape of phenotypes is complex. From this it follows that some intermediate forms may be fit if and only if some extreme forms are rare or absent. Subsequent to the evolution and population growth of both extreme forms, the intermediate may disappear and homogamy evolve among each of the extremes because of disruptive selection If so, sympatric speciation has occurred and niche space has been rendered into discrete segments. The limitations of the forces leading to competitive speciation are explored. Competitive speciation is discussed in relation to stasipatric speciation and host race formation. It may be responsible for both. Finally the rates of geographical speciation and polyploidy are compared to those of competitive speciation. The latter should be almost as fast as polyploidy and may be at the root of adaptive radiation. Unlike either polyploidy or geographical speciation, competitive speciation accelerates when species diversity declines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-289
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1978


  • Speciation
  • disruptive selection
  • homogamy
  • niche
  • stasipatric speciation
  • sympatric speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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