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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 939862, 17 pages
Review Article

Parallel Ecological Speciation in Plants?

1Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, 3529-6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
2Biology Department, Indiana University, 1001 E Third Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA

Received 3 August 2011; Revised 14 October 2011; Accepted 18 November 2011

Academic Editor: Andrew Hendry

Copyright © 2012 Katherine L. Ostevik et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Populations that have independently evolved reproductive isolation from their ancestors while remaining reproductively cohesive have undergone parallel speciation. A specific type of parallel speciation, known as parallel ecological speciation, is one of several forms of evidence for ecology's role in speciation. In this paper we search the literature for candidate examples of parallel ecological speciation in plants. We use four explicit criteria (independence, isolation, compatibility, and selection) to judge the strength of evidence for each potential case. We find that evidence for parallel ecological speciation in plants is unexpectedly scarce, especially relative to the many well-characterized systems in animals. This does not imply that ecological speciation is uncommon in plants. It only implies that evidence from parallel ecological speciation is rare. Potential explanations for the lack of convincing examples include a lack of rigorous testing and the possibility that plants are less prone to parallel ecological speciation than animals.