Physical barriers are an obvious barrier to gene flow and to diversity within species – when populations can’t get to each other to mix, their genes can’t mix either.
But in a paper published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Macquarie University biologists Nicolette Armansin and Adam Stow, together with international colleagues, argue that social barriers are also important, and contribute significantly to the evolution of social species.
Physical features of a species’ environment—mountains, deep waters, or unsuitable habitat – create barriers for individuals seeking to reproduce and thus disperse their genes. But the effort involved in overcoming physical barriers only pays off if the individual who enters the new patch can successfully mate and reproduce. MORE