A guide to the genomics of ecological speciation in natural animal populations
Interest in ecological speciation is growing, as evidence accumulates showing that natural selection can lead to rapid divergence between subpopulations. However, whether and how ecological divergence can lead to the buildup of reproductive isolation remains under debate. What is the relative importance of natural selection vs. neutral processes? How does adaptation generate reproductive isolation? Can ecological speciation occur despite homogenizing gene flow? These questions can be addressed using genomic approaches, and with the rapid development of genomic technology, will become more answerable in studies of wild populations than ever before. In this article, we identify open questions in ecological speciation theory and suggest useful genomic methods for addressing these questions in natural animal populations. We aim to provide a practical guide for ecologists interested in incorporating genomic methods into their research programs. An increased integration between ecological research and genomics has the potential to shed novel light on the origin of species.