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Inferring the evolutionary dynamics at play during the process of speciation by analysing the genomic landscape of divergence is a major pursuit in population genomics. However, empirical assessments of genomic landscapes under varying evolutionary scenarios that are known a priori are few, thereby limiting our ability to achieve this goal. Here we combine RAD-sequencing and individual-based simulations to evaluate the genomic landscape of divergence in the silvereye (Zosterops lateralis). Using pairwise comparisons that differ in divergence timeframe and the presence or absence of gene flow, we document how genomic patterns accumulate along the speciation continuum. In contrast to previous predictions, our results provide limited support for the idea that divergence accumulates around loci under divergent selection or that genomic islands widen with time. While a small number of genomic islands were found in populations diverging with and without gene flow, in few cases were SNPs putatively under selection tightly associated with genomic islands. The transition from localised to genome-wide levels of divergence was captured using individual-based simulations that considered only neutral processes. Our results challenge the ubiquity of existing verbal models that explain the accumulation of genomic differences across the speciation continuum and instead support the idea that divergence both within and outside of genomic islands is important during the speciation process.

Original publication




Journal article


G3 (Bethesda)

Publication Date



RAD sequencing, gene flow, genomic heterogeneity, genomic islands, genomic landscape, genomic valleys, simulated divergence