Comparative studies on speciation: 30 years since Coyne and Orr

Daniel R. Matute, Brandon S. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Understanding the processes of population divergence and speciation remains a core question in evolutionary biology. For nearly a hundred years evolutionary geneticists have characterized reproductive isolation (RI) mechanisms and specific barriers to gene flow required for species formation. The seminal work of Coyne and Orr provided the first comprehensive comparative analysis of speciation. By combining phylogenetic hypotheses and species range data with estimates of genetic divergence and multiple mechanisms of RI across Drosophila, Coyne and Orr's influential meta-analyses answered fundamental questions and motivated new analyses that continue to push the field forward today. Now 30 years later, we revisit the five questions addressed by Coyne and Orr, identifying results that remain well supported and others that seem less robust with new data. We then consider the future of speciation research, with emphasis on areas where novel methods and data motivate potential progress. While the literature remains biased towards Drosophila and other model systems, we are enthusiastic about the future of the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-778
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Haldane's rule
  • Postyzygotic isolation
  • Speciation


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