Geographic variation may ultimately lead to the splitting of a subdivided population into reproductively isolated units in spite of migration. Here, we consider how the waiting time until the first split and its location depend on different evolutionary factors including mutation, migration, random genetic drift, genetic architecture, and the geometric structure of the habitat. We perform large-scale, individual-based simulations using a simple model of reproductive isolation based on a classical view that reproductive isolation evolves as a by-product of genetic divergence. We show that rapid parapatric speciation on the time scale of a few hundred to a few thousand generations is plausible even when neighboring subpopulations exchange several individuals each generation. Divergent selection for local adaptation is not required for rapid speciation. Our results substantiates the claims that species with smaller range sizes (which are characterized by smaller local densities and reduced dispersal ability) should have higher speciation rates. If mutation rate is small, local abundances are low, or substantial genetic changes are required for reproductive isolation, then central populations should be the place where most splits take place. With high mutation rates, high local densities, or with moderate genetic changes sufficient for reproductive isolation, speciation events are expected to involve mainly peripheral populations.
Corresponding Editor: A. Caballero