Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 181-196

First online:

How is a species kept together?

  • Peter J. BeurtonAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for the History of Science

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Over the decades, there has been substantial empirical evidence showing that the unity of species cannot be maintained by gene flow. The biological species concept is inconclusive on this point. The suggestion is made that the unity of species is maintained rather by selection constantly spreading new alleles throughout the species, or bygene circulation. There is a lack in conceptual distinction between gene flow and gene circulation which lies at the heart of the problem. The concept of gene circulation also sheds some new light on the problem of typology and on such a broad concept as evolution. A new species definition is proposed.

Key words

Biological species concept gene flow gene circulation Ernst Mayr stalemates typology evolution