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Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. The biologist Orator F. Cook seems to have been the first to coin the term 'speciation' for the splitting of lineages or 'cladogenesis,' as opposed to 'anagenesis' or 'phyletic evolution' occurring within lineages.[1][2] Whether genetic drift is a minor or major contributor to speciation is the subject of much ongoing discussion. There are four geographic modes of speciation in nature, based on the extent to which speciating populations are geographically isolated from one another: allopatric, peripatric, parapatric, and sympatric. Speciation may also be induced artificially, through animal husbandry or laboratory experiments. Observed examples of each kind of speciation are provided throughout.[3]

Natural speciation Edit

All forms of natural speciation have taken place over the course of evolution, though it still remains a subject of debate as to the relative importance of each mechanism in driving biodiversity.[4]

One example of natural speciation is the diversity of the three-spined stickleback, a marine fish which, after the last ice age, has undergone speciation into new freshwater colonies in isolated lakes and streams. Over an estimated 10,000 generations, the sticklebacks show structural differences that are greater than those seen between different genera of fish including variations in fins, changes in the number or size of their bony plates, variable jaw structure, and color differences.[5]

There is debate as to the rate at which speciation events occur over geologic time. While some evolutionary biologists claim that speciation events have remained relatively constant over time, some palaeontologists such as Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould have argued that species usually remain unchanged over long stretches of time, and that speciation occurs only over relatively brief intervals, a view known as punctuated equilibrium.

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. ^ Cook, O. F. 1906. Factors of species-formation. Science 23:506-507.
  2. ^ Cook, O. F. 1908. Evolution without isolation. American Naturalist 42:727-731.
  3. ^ Observed Instances of Speciation by Joseph Boxhorn. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
  4. ^ J.M. Baker (2005). "Adaptive speciation: The role of natural selection in mechanisms of geographic and non-geographic speciation". Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36: 303–326. doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2005.03.005.  available online
  5. ^ Kingsley, D.M. (January 2009) "From Atoms to Traits," Scientific American, p. 57


External linksEdit

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