New species form during an extended process, which often begins when populations become physically separated and ends when they come into secondary contact and possess or subsequently evolve barriers to gene exchange. Selection can play an important role in promoting population divergence and reproductive isolation. Character displacement, in particular, potentially plays a key role in speciation by finalizing boundaries between incipient species that diverged in allopatry, by initiating divergence between populations in sympatry and allopatry with heterospecifics, and by initiating and finalizing differentiation of alternative morphs. Although character displacement's contribution to diversification has traditionally focused on its role in maintaining and enhancing differences between existing species, it might play an equally crucial role in generating new species.
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