The term speciation, which was first coined by biologist Orator F. Cook, refers to the process of evolution through which new species arise. In nature there are four different means of speciation: allopatric, parapatric, sympatric, and peripatric.
It is very important to understand the types of natural speciation to understand how it occurs. For example:
- Allopatric speciation occurs when an animal population is forced to be split between two geographical areas as a result of geographical change. As a result, there are mutations that occur in the split populations which affect the ability of the two groups to reproduce if and when they are reintroduced.
- Peripatric speciation occurs when new species arise in isolation. As in allopatric speciation, the new species is unable to reproduce with others in the original population.
- Parapatric speciation occurs when populations are only partially separated and therefore do sometimes make contact. In this situation, the reproduction is based on selection of the best traits within the group.
- Sympatric speciation is differentiated from the other three because it occurs in one geographic location. Some scientists would call this type of speciation controversial and there are some who do not believe it exists. The cause of sympatric speciation is not known but could be based on varied food sources or traits that spontaneously develop.
Each of these different types of speciation is an important part of the process of evolution.
Some Examples of Speciation
You can see a lot of different examples of speciation in nature. Some of these different examples include:
- Hawthorn fly
- Three-spined sticklebacks
- Cichlid fishes in Lake Nagubago
- Tennessee cave salamanders
- Greenish Warbler
- Ensatina salamanders
- Larus gulls
- Petroica multicolor
- Mayr bird fauna
- Squirrels in the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon
- Apple maggot
- Faeroe Island house mouse
- Primula kewensis
- Croatian lizards
Speciation can be natural and can occur as a normal part of the evolutionary process. Artificial speciation is also possible and can be created by laboratory experiments or through agriculture and animal husbandry. Fruit flies are a primary example of artificial speciation. Another well-known example is domestic sheep.
Speciation Results in a New Breed
It is important to note that speciation occurs when there is a new species, not just a new sub-species. For example, many pet owners are excited to own dogs that have been bred together to create a new breed. The new breed is not considered a new species. The reason for this is that the new breed is still able to reproduce with the other breed.
A new species is not able to reproduce with members of the original population. A similar example, in plant form, are brussel sprouts, collards and kohlrabi. They are all plants that are part of the same species Brassica oleracea, the species to which cabbage and broccoli also belong.
So, now you better understand what speciation is - and is not - and you can see examples of speciation in nature to better understand evolution.
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