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The Darwinian view that many or most physiological and behavioral traits of organisms are adaptations that have evolved for specific functions or for specific reasons (as opposed to being byproducts of the evolution of other traits, consequences of biological constraints, or the result of random variation).
The isolation of two populations of a species due to a change in breeding periods. This isolation acts as a precursor to allochronic speciation, a type of speciation which results when two populations of a species become isolated due to differences in reproductive timing. An example is the periodical 13- and 17-year Magicicada species.
The comparative study of the relationship between the size of an organism's body (or of a specific organ, e.g. the brain) and various other biological characteristics, such as body shape, anatomy, physiology, or behavior.
For a given clade, any trait or feature (e.g. a specific phenotype) that appears in the clade's common ancestor; the same trait may also appear in some or all of the lineal descendants included within the clade, indicating that it has undergone little or no significant change during the clade's evolutionary history and thus retained its "primitive" condition. Some but not all subgroups within the clade may contain derived traits, in which the ancestral trait has changed significantly over evolutionary time such that the original ancestral condition no longer exists. Both terms are relative: an ancestral trait for one clade may be a derived trait for a different clade. The term "ancestral trait" is often used interchangeably with the more technical term plesiomorphy.
A derived character state; i.e. the state or condition of a particular trait or feature (e.g. a specific phenotype) that is distinct from and derivative of an ancestral character by virtue of its modification over time in one or more lineal descendants of a given clade. Apomorphies are often viewed as evolutionary "innovations" which set the taxa in which they appear apart from the clade's common ancestor, as well as from other clades; shared apomorphies are used to construct and define clades. The term is relative; a trait considered an apomorphy in one clade may not be considered an apomorphy in a different clade. Contrast plesiomorphy.
A mating system in which individuals with similar phenotypesmate with each other more frequently than would be expected in a completely random mating system. Assortative mating usually has the effect of increasing genetic relatedness between members of the mating population. Contrast disassortative mating.
An evolutionary model of the genetic incompatibility that occurs as a result of negative epistatic interactions between two or more genes or alleles with different evolutionary histories, which may meet when distinct populations hybridize. The incompatible genes or alleles themselves, referred to as Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities, may be the result of random or neutral mutations, or they may be specific adaptations driven by natural selection. By preventing populations from successfully interbreeding, these incompatibilities can reinforce reproductive isolation and thereby increase the chance of speciation.
In centrifugal speciation, the range of an original population (green) expands and then contracts, leaving an isolated fragment population behind. In the absence of interbreeding, the central population (changed to blue) evolves reproductive isolation over time.
A measurable spatial gradient in a single biological character or trait of a species or population across its geographic range. The nature of a cline may be genotypic (e.g. variation in allele frequency) or phenotypic (e.g. variation in body size or pigmentation), and may show smooth, continuous gradation or abrupt changes between different geographic regions.
The process by which two or more distinct populations, species, or other groups of organisms, or two or more distinct traits within a species, reciprocally affect each other's evolution through natural selection. Each party in a coevolutionary relationship exerts selective pressures upon the other, leading to the evolution of separate traits in each party.
An organism or taxon (e.g. a species) which is hypothesized to be the lineal progenitor of two or more organisms or taxa which exist at a later point in evolutionary time. The concept of common descent is fundamental to the study of evolution, phylogenetics, and cladistics; for instance, all clades, by definition, are rooted in a common ancestor. See also most recent common ancestor.
The understanding of biological evolution as developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin and others, which states that all biological organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Colloquially, the term is sometimes used to refer more broadly to modern evolutionary theory as a whole, though in scientific circles distinctions are usually made between Darwin's ideas and later additions to evolutionary biology.
For a given clade, any trait or feature (e.g. a specific phenotype) that is present within one or more subgroups of the clade but not in the clade's common ancestor. Derived traits show significant differences from the original "primitive" condition of an ancestral trait found in the common ancestor, implying that the trait has undergone extensive adaptation during the clade's evolutionary history to reach its derivative condition. Both terms are relative: a derived trait for one clade may be an ancestral trait for a different clade. The term "derived trait" is often used interchangeably with the more technical term apomorphy.
A mating system in which individuals with dissimilar phenotypesmate with each other more frequently than would be expected in a completely random mating system. Disassortative mating usually has the effect of decreasing genetic relatedness between members of the mating population. Contrast assortative mating.
A mode of natural selection in which the extreme values of a trait or phenotype within a breeding population are favored over intermediate values, causing allele frequencies to shift over time away from the intermediate. This causes the variance in the trait to increase and results in the population dividing into two distinct groups, each with trait values at one end of the trait's distribution curve.
The extinction of a population of organisms (insofar as the population can be defined by one or more identifiable characteristics) as a result of the excessive accumulation of genetic mutations, such that the population loses self-identity because all of its mutated descendants lack the identifiable characteristics.
The phenomenon by which the heritable characteristics of biological populations change over successive generations. Evolution occurs when processes such as natural selection and genetic drift act on the variation in characteristics that exists between members of a population, resulting in certain characteristics becoming more or less common within the population.
Currently living or existing; still in existence and not extinct. The term is generally used to refer to the present-day state of existence of a particular taxon (such as a family, genus, species, etc.).
The loss of genetic variation that occurs when a new, physically isolated population is established by a very small number of individuals who have migrated from a larger population and are not fully representative of the larger population's genetic diversity. As a result, the new population is often distinctively different, both genotypically and phenotypically, from the parent population. Besides migration, population bottlenecks can also result in a type of founder effect; extreme founder effects can lead to speciation.
A species that occupies temporary environments or habitats (either because its members frequently migrate or because its environments frequently change) and so does not persist for many generations at any one site.
Any segment or set of segments of a nucleic acid molecule that contains the information necessary to produce a functional RNA transcript in a controlled manner. Genes are often considered the fundamental units of heredity and are typically encoded in DNA. A particular gene can have multiple different versions, or alleles, and a single gene may influence many different phenotypes.
Gene flow is the transfer of alleles from one population to another population through the migration of individual organisms between the populations
A measure of the genetic divergence between species, populations within a species, or individuals, used especially in phylogenetics to express either the time elapsed since the existence of a common ancestor or the degree of differentiation in the DNA sequences comprising the genomes of each population or individual.
A change in the frequency with which an existing allele occurs in a population due to random variation in the distribution of alleles from one generation to the next. It is often interpreted as the role that random chance plays in determining whether a given allele becomes more or less common with each generation, irrespective of the influence of natural selection. Genetic drift may cause certain alleles, even otherwise advantageous ones, to disappear completely from the gene pool, thereby reducing genetic variation, or it may cause initially rare alleles, even neutral or deleterious ones, to become much more frequent or even fixed.
The genetic differences both within and between populations, species, or other groups of organisms. It is often visualized as the variety of different alleles in the gene pools of different populations.
A type of natural selection that occurs at the level of individual genes or alleles, in which the frequency of an allele within a breeding population is determined by its fitness averaged over the variety of genotypes in which it occurs; the differential propagation of different alleles within a population as a consequence of properties borne by the alleles themselves, rather than by the genotypes in which they are found.
A principle of population genetics which states that allele and genotype frequencies of a population will remain constant from generation to generation in the absence of other evolutionary influences. In the simplest case of a randomly mating population of diploid organisms possessing a single locus with two alleles, A and a, with frequencies f(A) = p and f(a) = q, respectively, the expected genotype frequencies are f(AA) = p2 for AAhomozygotes, f(aa) = q2 for aa homozygotes, and f(Aa) = 2pq for heterozygotes. In the absence of evolutionary forces such as natural selection, mutation, assortative mating, gene flow, and genetic drift, p and q will remain constant between generations, such that the population is said to be in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium with respect to the locus in question.
The offspring that results from combining the qualities of two organisms of different genera, species, breeds, or varieties through sexual reproduction. Hybrids may occur naturally or artificially, as during selective breeding of domesticated animals and plants. Reproductive barriers typically prevent hybridization between distantly related organisms, or at least ensure that hybrid offspring are sterile, but fertile hybrids may result in speciation.
A geographic area in which the ranges of two interbreeding species or populations overlap, allowing them to cross-fertilize and generate hybrid offspring. The formation of a hybrid zone is one of the four outcomes of secondary contact between divergent genetic lineages.
The process by which a hybrid organism is produced from two parents of different genera, species, breeds, or varieties.
The exaggeration of one or more phenotypic features of a descendant organism compared to those of its ancestors due to an increase in the duration of ontogenetic development over evolutionary history.
(of a gene or allele) Traceable back through an arbitrary number of generations without mutation to a common ancestor of the group of descendant organisms that carries the gene or allele. A gene or allele present in a group of descendant organisms is said to be identical by descent to a gene or allele in a common ancestor of the group if both sequences are identical, indicating that the sequence has been passed down unmodified from the common ancestor to its descendants.
The number of offspring equivalents that an individual organism rears, rescues, or otherwise supports through its behavior, regardless of whether or not the individual is actually a biological parent of the offspring equivalents. Inclusive fitness is one of two metrics of evolutionary success as defined by W.D. Hamilton in 1964, the other being personal fitness.
The repeated evolution of similar phenotypic characteristics or traits in different organisms at different times during the evolutionary history of a clade, a phenomenon which can result in the seeming de-extinction of an organism previously considered extinct.
A reproductive strategy characterized by multiple reproductive cycles during an individual organism's lifetime. Organisms that use such a strategy are said to be iteroparous. Iteroparity is usually contrasted with semelparity.
In the Kaneshiro model of peripatric speciation, a sample of a larger population results in an isolated population with less males containing attractive traits. Over time, choosy females are selected against as the population increases. Sexual selection drives new traits to arise (green), thereby reproductively isolating the new population from the old one (blue).
A form of genic selection by which alleles differ in their rates of propagation by influencing the survival or reproductive success of individuals who carry the same alleles by common descent (their kin).
The most recent population of organisms from which all extant organisms on Earth share a common descent; i.e. the most recent common ancestor of all organisms now living. LUCA is not thought to have been the earliest life on Earth, but rather the only organism of its time to still have living descendants. Its existence is not known from any specific fossil record but is inferred from phylogenetic comparisons of modern organisms, all of which are its descendants.
Evolutionary change as it occurs at a relatively large scale, at or above the level of species, as opposed to microevolution, which occurs at a smaller scale. Macroevolution is often thought of as the compounded effects of microevolution.
Any nongenetic effect of the mother on the phenotype of her offspring, owing to factors such as cytoplasmic inheritance, transmission of congenital disease, and the sharing of nutritional conditions.
The origination and biological development of an organism within its own lifetime, as opposed to phylogeny, which refers to the evolutionary history of the organism's ancestors. In sexually reproducing organisms, ontogeny is the study of the development of an organism from the time of fertilization to the organism's reproductively mature form; the term may also be used to refer to the study of an organism's entire lifespan.
A diagram representing population subject to a selective gradient of phenotypic or genotypic frequencies (a cline). Each end of the gradient experiences different selective conditions (divergent selection). Reproductive isolation occurs upon the formation of a hybrid zone. In most cases, the hybrid zone may become eliminated due to a selective disadvantage. This effectively completes the speciation process.
The principle of accounting for empirical observations by whichever hypothesis requires the fewest or the simplest assumptions for which there is limited or no evidence. In biological systematics, maximum parsimony is an optimality criterion which invokes a minimum of evolutionary changes to infer phylogenetic relationships; i.e. the phylogenetic tree that minimizes the total number of character-state changes is to be preferred.
A type of asexual reproduction in which the growth and development of embryos occurs without fertilization. In animals which reproduce by parthenogenesis, an unfertilized gamete of the female parent is capable of developing into an adult without any contribution from a male parent, resulting in offspring possessing only the mother's genetic material (the exact proportion of which depends on the parthenogenetic mechanism, of which there are numerous varieties). Some species reproduce exclusively by parthenogenesis, while others can switch between sexual reproduction and parthenogenesis under certain environmental conditions.
peak shift model
In peripatric speciation, a small population becomes isolated on the periphery of the central population evolving reproductive isolation (blue) due to reduced gene flow
A variation of allopatric speciation where a new species forms from a small, peripheral isolated population. It is sometimes referred to as centripetal speciation in contrast to centrifugal speciation.
An ancestral character state; i.e. the state or condition of a particular trait or feature (e.g. a specific phenotype) that is present in the common ancestor of a given clade. Plesiomorphies may or may not be shared by some or all descendants within the clade. The term is relative; a trait considered a plesiomorphy in one clade may not be considered a plesiomorphy in a different clade. Contrast apomorphy.
The grouping of organisms which do not share an immediate common ancestor; such groups are said to be polyphyletic. The term is often applied to groups of organisms that share characteristics which appear to be similar but are not actually closely related, frequently as a result of convergent evolution. The avoidance of polyphyletic groupings is often a stimulus for major revisions of biological classification schemes. Contrast monophyly and paraphyly.
A group of organisms of the same species which occupies a more or less well-defined geographic region and which exhibits reproductive continuity from generation to generation. It is generally presumed that ecological and reproductive interactions occur more frequently among the members of the group than between them and members of other populations of the same species.
Possession of the necessary properties to permit a shift into a new niche or habitat. A structure is said to be preadapted if it can assume a new function before it itself becomes modified by selection.
A chromosomal model of speciation that occurs rapidly when a cross-fertilizing plant species buds off from a larger population on the periphery, experiencing interbreeding and strong genetic drift that results in a new species. The model is similar to that of Ernst Mayr's peripatric speciation.
A species or population that is the last surviving representative of an otherwise extinct group, taxon, lineage, or clade, or which has been left behind in a locality after extinction throughout most of a formerly larger geographic distribution.
Reproductive character displacement sometimes occurs when two allopatric populations come into secondary contact. Once in sympatry, changes can be seen in mating-associated traits only in the zone of contact. This is a common pattern found in speciation by reinforcement.
When two different species mate and cannot produce fertile offspring. Isolating mechanisms are typically classified as prezygotic (isolating barriers occurring before the formation of a zygote) and postzygotic (isolating barriers occurring after the formation of a zygote).
In a ring species, individuals are able to successfully reproduce (exchange genes) with members of their own species in adjacent populations occupying a suitable habitat around a geographic barrier. Individuals at the ends of the cline are unable to reproduce when they come into contact.
Connected populations of a species, each of which can interbreed with closely sited related populations, but for which there exist at least two "end" populations in the series, which are too distantly related to interbreed.
The persistence of a certain phenotypic trait or characteristic in a biological system despite perturbations or conditions of uncertainty. Robustness is achieved through the combination of many genetic and molecular mechanisms which effectively preserve the integrity of a particular adaptation, and can evolve by direct or indirect selection.
A sudden and large mutational change from one generation to the next which is sufficient to cause rapid or immediate speciation. Various forms of saltation, such as by polyploidy in plants, have often historically been interpreted as evidence for certain theories of mutationism, in contrast to Darwiniangradualism.
The process by which two allopatrically distributed populations of a species are geographically reunited. Contact between divergent populations may renew the potential for gene flow between them, depending upon how reproductively isolated the populations have become.
The four outcomes of secondary contact: 1. An extrinsic barrier separates a species population into two but they come into contact before reproductive isolation is sufficient to result in speciation. The two populations fuse back into one species. 2. Speciation by reinforcement. 3. Two separated populations stay genetically distinct while hybrid swarms form in the zone of contact. 4. Genome recombination results in speciation of the two populations, with an additional hybrid species. All three species are separated by intrinsic reproductive barriers.
A reproductive strategy characterized by a single reproductive episode during an individual organism's lifetime, especially one in which the programmed death of the organism immediately after the reproductive event constitutes part of an overall strategy that includes putting all available resources into maximizing the probability of reproductive success, at the expense of the organism's future life. Organisms that use such a strategy are said to be semelparous. Semelparity is usually contrasted with iteroparity.
semipermeable species boundary
The idea that gene flow can occur between two species but that certain alleles at particular loci can exchange whereas others cannot. It is often used to describe hybrid zones and has also been referred to as porous.
A basic unit of biological classification, traditionally interpreted according to the biological species concept as the members in aggregate of a group of populations of organisms which interbreed or potentially interbreed with each other under natural conditions; a basic taxonomic rank to which individual specimens are assigned and which often but not always corresponds to the definition of a biological species; and a fundamental unit used to interpret and measure biodiversity in ecological contexts. The concept of species is notoriously complex and often problematic to define precisely; many different conceptualizations of what is or should be meant by the term have been defined in scientific literature.
A named geographic race, or a set of populations of the same species which share one or more distinctive features and occupy an area that is geographically separate from other subspecies. Not all species are formally divided into subspecies, and the taxon of species itself is not a well-defined concept.
^Luciano Nicolas Naka, Catherine L. Bechtoldt, L. Magalli Pinto Henriques, and Robb T. Brumfield (2012), "The Role of Physical Barriers in the Location of Avian Suture Zones in the Guiana Shield, Northern Amazonia", The American Naturalist, 179 (4), doi:10.1086/664627CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)