Speciation: An Illustrated Introduction

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There is a dizzying diversity of species on our planet. From genetic evidence we know that all of those species evolved from a single ancient ancestor. But how does one species split in to many? Through the evolutionary process of speciation — which begins when populations become isolated by changes in geography or by shifts in behavior so that they no longer interbreed. This video illustrates the speciation process in birds to help you understand the basis of earth’s biodiversity.

Including photographs and video by Tim Laman

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Comment (210)

  1. Using the definition you used here, Arctic Terns and Common Terns would be the same species – They can (and do) interbreed. Their offspring can also continue to breed, unlike other hybrids.

  2. Nature isn't clear cut and species is a necessarily artificial concept. I find it better to think of species as a continuum of interbreeding populations, that are mostly unable to interbreed with less closely related populations. However this view is much more difficult to explain to non-biologists. Considering this video is geared toward a lay audience, the given definition is one that works well in a generalized sense. If you are fascinated by blurry species lines look up "ring species".

  3. {وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِي الأَرْضِ وَلاَ طَائِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ إِلاَّ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَالُكُم مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِي الكِتَابِ مِن شَيْءٍ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ يُحْشَرُونَ }الأنعام38

  4. Ring speciation has never been proven. In fact the worldwide example of Gull evolution in a ring is false and that has been proven. So as to date there is not one example of ring speciation and it stands only as a theory of something that might happen.

  5. This is all well and good, but it doesn't explain at all Darwin's theory of evolution.  If all life came from a common ancestor, one kind of animal had to give rise to another.  There's no evidence that all life on earth came from one ancestor.  All speciation proves is that animals evolve to survive to their surroundings.  A bird will always be a bird.

  6. I watched this video because it was an assignment for my Conservation class and made the mistake of reading the comments below. That is one I will hopefully not make again. Thank you LabofOrnithology for sharing some great information and to you (you know who you are) clearly uneducated trolls below, please keep your illiterate drivel to yourself. I find you uncouth and intolerable and don't see why you feel the need to subject us all to your clear lack of intelligence and negative attitude. Leave the science to us and focus on your own life which probably includes a lot of Fox News and Trump or Cruz support rallies.

  7. That's not speciation. That's adaptation. If a bird shapes into a different bird it is adaptation. Clearly their definition of speciation is vague and not accurate.

    There is more evidence that speciation could never occur than the supposed evidence of fossil records that prove nothing in regards to evolution.

  8. As a horticulturist I have thought about this for many, many years. It's so hard to wrap my head around the fact the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and how long that really is. Speciation of plants and animals takes millions of years. period.

  9. An orthodox speciation (or precondition for it) is explained. Currently, the issue may be settled like this. Viewed in this way, however, difficulties in gradualism becomes clearer. Yet, much to be studied & analysed for more coherent reasoning.

  10. The bird of main land and of iland come back togeher in same environment than would they beome able to reproduction or the island birds able to turn in actual one.

  11. send me the answers for this:

    Using the information from the video, explain how birds evolved into different species in each part of the island.

    Your answer MUST INCLUDE the following terms: reproductive isolation, geographical isolation, genetic mutations, gradual change, different habitats.

  12. Quick video hack to make the video go by 'faster.' Put the playback speed at 2, or any other that you like, and open the transcript (use the three dots near the thumbs up buttons). Then read along with the video, or just listen. Reading helps you take in the information better.

  13. Many humans populations were separated for 1000-2000+ generations.
    Have different colors, body shape, genetic difference is important, physiology and emotional reactions are different too. They have different reaction to medical drugs.

    If they were species of animals, biologists would name them – at least – as subspecies of Homo sapiens.
    Having offspring is possible even for quite different animal species, including birds. Still they are considered to be different species.
    For subspecies, reproduction is almost always possible.

    So why biologists don't call humans with very different traits subspecies? It's going against the theory.

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