Although verbal theories of speciation consider landscape changes, ecological speciation is usually modelled in a fixed geographical arrangement. Yet landscape changes occur, at different spatio-temporal scales, due to geological, climatic or ecological processes, and these changes result in repeated divisions and reconnections of populations. We examine the effect of such landscape dynamics on speciation. We use a stochastic, sexual population model with polygenic inheritance, embedded in a landscape dynamics model (allopatry–sympatry oscillations). We show that, under stabilizing selection, allopatry easily generates diversity, but species coexistence is evolutionarily unsustainable. Allopatry produces refuges whose persistence depends on the characteristic time scales of the landscape dynamics. Under disruptive selection, assuming that sympatric speciation is impossible due to Mendelian inheritance, allopatry is necessary for ecological differentiation. The completion of reproductive isolation, by reinforcement, then requires several sympatric phases. These results demonstrate that the succession of past, current and future geographical arrangements considerably influence the speciation process.