Demographic noise can lead to the spontaneous formation of species

Tim Rogers, Alan J. McKane, Axel G. Rossberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (SciVal)


When a collection of phenotypically diverse organisms compete with each other for limited resources, with competition being strongest amongst the most similar, the population can evolve into tightly localised clusters. This process can be thought of as a simple model of the emergence of species. Past studies have neglected the effects of demographic noise and studied the population on a macroscopic scale, where species formation is found to depend upon the shape of the curve describing the decline of competition strength with phenotypic distance. In the following, we will show how including the effects of demographic noise leads to a radically different conclusion. Two situations are identified: a weak-noise regime in which the population exhibits patterns of fluctuation around the macroscopic description, and a strong-noise regime where species appear spontaneously even in the case that all organisms have equal fitness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number40008
JournalEPL (Europhysics Letters)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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