, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 239-255

Defining Species: A Multi-Level Approach

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Abstract

Different concepts define species at the pattern-level grouping of organisms into discrete clusters, the level of the processes operating within and between populations leading to the formation and maintenance of these clusters, or the level of the inner-organismic genetic and molecular mechanisms that contribute to species cohesion or promote speciation. I argue that, unlike single-level approaches, a multi-level framework takes into account the complex sequences of cause-effect reinforcements leading to the formation and maintenance of various patterns, and allows for revisions and refinements of pattern-based characterizations in light of the gradual elucidation of the causes and mechanisms contributing to pattern formation and maintenance.