Date of Award


Document Type



Biological Sciences

College Name

College of Science


Alterations to a population’s ecology can contribute to adaptation events by promoting mechanisms that provide the greatest fitness in an environment. These aforementioned promotions occur in the form of molecular modification, specifically through some form of gene expression, and can ultimately have effects on behavioral responses. This process of gene expression depends on environmental conditions, thus similar genes can undergo varying intensities of expression depending on the ecology in question. Long term adaptation events within ecology diverged populations may eventually result in reproductive isolation mechanisms—restricting gene flow and thus preventing hybridization. Once populations have lost the ability to successfully reproduce with one another, they have been said to have undergone a speciation event and can be classified as different species with respect to the biological species concept. Ecology-dependent speciation, otherwise known as ecological speciation, evaluates the barriers to gene flow between populations due to ecologically-based divergent selection (Rundle & Nosil 2005). This approach provides an exceptional explanation for the effects of speciation on insect populations that make use of host plants, such as Drosophila mojavensis (D. mojavensis).



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