Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 55-76

First online:

Is species selection dependent upon emergent characters?

  • Benton M. StiddAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Western Illinois University
  • , David L. WadeAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Western Illinois University

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The architects of punctuated equilibrium and species selection as well as more recent workers (Vrba) have narrowed the original formulation of species selection and made it dependent upon so-called emergent characters. One criticism of this narrow version is the dearth of emergent characters with a consequent diminution in the robustness of species selection as an important evolutionary process. We argue that monomorphic species characters may at times be the focus of selection and that under these circumstances selection at the organism level is by-passed due to the absence of critical variance. Selection therefore shifts to the species level where variability reemerges in a clade. The absence of critical variance among organisms prevents effect macroevolution from operating. If species-wide properties are important in macroevolutionary processes, as we contend, systematists should pay more attention to their elucidation.

Key words

aggregate characters emergent characters monomorphic characters shifting selection species selection