Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 55–76

Is species selection dependent upon emergent characters?

  • Benton M. Stidd
  • David L. Wade

DOI: 10.1007/BF00851987

Cite this article as:
Stidd, B.M. & Wade, D.L. Biol Philos (1995) 10: 55. doi:10.1007/BF00851987


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 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benton M. Stidd
    • 1
  • David L. Wade
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesWestern Illinois UniversityMacombU.S.A.

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