Evolution in action: Adaptation and incipient sympatric speciation with gene flow across life at “Evolution Canyon”, Israel

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Various major evolutionary problems are still open, controversial or unsettled. These include even the basic evolutionary processes of adaptation and speciation. The “Evolution Canyon” model is a microscale natural laboratory that can highlight some of the basic problems requiring clarification (Nevo list of “Evolution Canyon” publications at http:// evolution.haifa.ac.il). This is especially true if an interdisciplinary approach is practiced including ecological functional genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and phenomics. Here I overview and reanalyze the incipient sympatric adaptive ecological speciation of five model organisms at “Evolution Canyon”, across life: the soil bacterium, Bacillus simplex; wild barley, the progenitor of cultivated barley, Hordeum spontaneum; the tiny beetle Oryzaephilus surinamensis; the cosmopolitan fruit-fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and the Africa-originated spiny mouse, Acomys cahirinus. All five models of organisms display evolution in action of microclimatic adaptation and incipient sympatric adaptive ecological speciation on the tropical and temperate abutting slopes, separated on average by only 250 meters. Some distant species converge in their micro-climatic adaptations to the hot and dry “African”, south-facing slope (SFS or AS) and to the cool and humid “European”, north-facing slope (NSF or ES). Natural selection overrules ongoing interslope gene-flow between the free interbreeding populations within and between slopes, and leads to adaptive incipient sympatric ecological speciation on the dramatically opposite abutting xeric savannoid and mesic forested slopes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-98
Number of pages14
JournalIsrael Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.


  • Adaptive evolution
  • Incipient sympatric ecological speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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