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Species selection

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Species selection, also termed species sorting[1], is the process that accounts for the proliferation of species that possess lower extinction and higher speciation rates[2] In other words, it refers to patterns which arise through differences in speciation and extinction rates. Species selection had been recognized as a possible evolutionary force by evolutionists midway through the twentieth century.[3]

Species selection and punctuated equilibrium

To help explain adaptation, punctuated equilibrium emphasizes the role of species selection. That is, new species are said to branch-off in a random direction with respect to adaptation. Then, the most adapted species are selected – the entire species is selected, rather than individuals. Evolutionists make an analogy between species selection and individual selection. In individual selection, mutation randomly creates new variations of individuals (most of them unfavorable), and then the favored individuals are selected. In species selection, speciation (operating like a random mutation) randomly creates new variations of species (most of them not favorable), and then the favored species are selected. Because of this randomness, numerous speciation events would be required to obtain one that is favorable – just as countless thousands of mutations would be required to obtain one individual that is favorable.


  1. Jablonski, David (2008). "Species Selection: Theory and Data". Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 39: 501–24. 
  2. "Species selection". Retrieved 04-20-2016. 
  3. Lieberman, Bruce S.; Vrba, Elisabeth S (Spring 2005). "Stephen Jay Gould on species selection: 30 years of insight". Paleobiology 31 (2 Suppl): 113–121. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 

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