Species Concepts and Speciation Analysis

  • Joel Cracraft
Part of the Current Ornithology book series (CUOR, volume 1)


Systematic biologists have directed much attention to species concepts because they realize that the origin of taxonomic diversity is the fundamental problem of evolutionary biology. Questions such as, What are the units of evolution? and, How do these units originate? thus continually capture the attention of many. It is probably no exaggeration to say that most believe the “systematic” aspects of the problem have been solved to a greater or lesser extent, whereas the task before us now is to understand the “genetic” and “ecologic” components of differentiation, i. e., those aspects often perceived to constitute the “real mechanisms” of speciation:

A study of speciation is, to a considerable extent, a study of the genetics and evolution of reproductive isolating mechanisms (Bush, 1975, p. 339).

... a new mechanistic taxonomy of speciation is needed before population genetics, which deals with evolutionary mechanisms, can be properly integrated with speciation theory; that is, the various modes of speciation should be characterized according to the various forces and genetic mechanisms that underly [sic] the evolution of isolating barriers (Templeton 1980, p. 720).


Reproductive Isolation Speciation Analysis Biological Species Species Concept Evolutionary Unit 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel Cracraft
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity of IllinoisChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Field Museum of Natural HistoryChicagoUSA

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