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Eternal EphemeraAdaptation and the Origin of Species from the Nineteenth Century Through Punctuated Equilibria and Beyond$
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Niles Eldredge

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153164

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153164.001.0001

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Species and Speciation Reconsidered, 1935–

Species and Speciation Reconsidered, 1935–

Chapter:
(p.201) 4 Species and Speciation Reconsidered, 1935–
Source:
Eternal Ephemera
Author(s):

Niles Eldredge

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231153164.003.0005

This chapter illustrates the reinvention of the theory of the origin of species in isolation. It was Theodosius Dobzhansky who revived this line of thinking in a short paper published in 1935, followed by his book Genetics and the Origin of Species. Dobzhansky brought back conceptions of the reality of species and the importance of their origins through geographic isolation, which led to the speciation theory having an important role in modern, post-genetics evolutionary thinking. According to him, mutations at individual level produce discontinuities—alleles—but at the level of populations, continuity is the rule. Allelic distribution within populations could be gradually modified among generations through natural selection and “genetic drift.” Dobzhansky further contends that discontinuities between species are necessary for “adaptive peaks;” certain species must learn to adapt to a set of environmental conditions for survival purposes.

Keywords:   speciation theory, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Genetics and the Origin of Species, geographic isolation, alleles, natural selection, genetic drift

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