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  1. Abstract

    Rapid speciation events, with taxa generated over a short time period, are among the most investigated biological phenomena. However, molecular systematics often reveals contradictory results compared with morphological/phenotypical diagnoses of species under scenarios of recent and rapid diversification. In this study, we used molecular data from an average of over 29 000 loci per sample from RADseq to reconstruct the diversification history and delimit the species boundary in a short‐winged grasshopper species complex (Melanoplus scudderigroup), where Pleistocene diversification has been hypothesized to generate more than 20 putative species with distinct male genitalic shapes. We found that, based on a maximum likelihood molecular phylogeny, each morphological species indeed forms a monophyletic group, contrary to the result from a previous mitochondrial DNA sequence study. By dating the diversification events, the species complex is estimated to have diversified during the Late Pleistocene, supporting the recent radiation hypothesis. Furthermore, coalescent‐based species delimitation analyses provide quantitative support for independent genetic lineages, which corresponds to the morphologically defined species. Our results also showed that male genitalic shape may not be predicted by evolutionary distance among species, not only indicating that this trait is labile, but also implying that selection may play a role in character divergence. Additionally, our findings suggest that the rapid speciation events in this flightless grasshopper complex might be primarily associated with the fragmentation of their grassland habitats during the Late Pleistocene. Collectively, our study highlights the importance of integrating multiple sources of information to delineate species, especially for a species complex that diversified rapidly, and whose divergence may be linked to ecological processes that create geographic isolation (i.e. fragmented habitats), as well as selection acting on characters with direct consequences for reproductive isolation (i.e. genitalic divergence).

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  2. Barraclough, Timothy G. (Ed.)
    The “multispecies” coalescent (MSC) model that underlies many genomic species-delimitation approaches is problematic because it does not distinguish between genetic structure associated with species versus that of populations within species. Consequently, as both the genomic and spatial resolution of data increases, a proliferation of artifactual species results as within-species population lineages, detected due to restrictions in gene flow, are identified as distinct species. The toll of this extends beyond systematic studies, getting magnified across the many disciplines that rely upon an accurate framework of identified species. Here we present the first of a new class of approaches that addresses this issue by incorporating an extended speciation process for species delimitation. We model the formation of population lineages and their subsequent development into independent species as separate processes and provide for a way to incorporate current understanding of the species boundaries in the system through specification of species identities of a subset of population lineages. As a result, species boundaries and within-species lineages boundaries can be discriminated across the entire system, and species identities can be assigned to the remaining lineages of unknown affinities with quantified probabilities. In addition to the identification of species units in nature, the primary goal of species delimitation, the incorporation of a speciation model also allows us insights into the links between population and species-level processes. By explicitly accounting for restrictions in gene flow not only between, but also within, species, we also address the limits of genetic data for delimiting species. Specifically, while genetic data alone is not sufficient for accurate delimitation, when considered in conjunction with other information we are able to not only learn about species boundaries, but also about the tempo of the speciation process itself. 
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