Watching new species evolve in real time

February 29, 2016

Sometimes evolution proceeds much more rapidly than we might think. Genetic analysis makes it possible to detect the earliest stages of species formation and to gain a better understanding of speciation processes. For example, a study just published in PLOS Genetics by researchers from Eawag and the University of Bern - investigating rapid speciation in threespine stickleback in and around Lake Constance - shows that a species can begin to diverge very rapidly, even when the two daughter species breed alongside one another simultaneously.

The innumerable three-spined stickleback which end up in fishermen's nets on Lake Constance are an unwanted by-catch. Unlike some other , these tiddlers - of no commercial value - appear to be relatively unaffected by lake eutrophication, bank stabilization and channelization. This species has been spreading rapidly throughout the Swiss Central Plateau for around 150 years. Now, an elaborate genetic study conducted by researchers at Eawag and Bern University helps to explain the secret of its success: the stickleback can evidently adapt very rapidly to new habitats - so rapidly that, for evolutionary biologists, it serves as a model for the divergence of a single species into two or more distinct species. Rather than just one "Lake Constance stickleback", the researchers found two different forms - typical of the lake and of inflowing streams - even though lake stickleback migrate into these streams during the spawning season.

According to first author David Marques, "It was completely unexpected for the species to diverge over such a short period, given that the sticklebacks breed at the same time and at the same sites." Usually, independent species develop by adapting to different habitats and reproducing isolated from other populations - at different depths of a lake, for example. Among whitefish, different breeding and spawning seasons have additionally evolved.

Explore further: Humans speeding up evolution by causing extinction of 'younger' species

More information: Marques DA, Lucek K, Meier JI, Mwaiko S, Wagner CE, Excoffier L, et al. (2016) Genomics of Rapid Incipient Speciation in Sympatric Threespine Stickleback. PLoS Genetics 12(2): e1005887. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005887

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torbjorn_b_g_larsson
4.7 / 5 (12) Feb 29, 2016
Biologist Coyne has a list with 200 observed speciations. Now it's 201...
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.7 / 5 (12) Feb 29, 2016
Science. Pushing back the bounds of religious ignorance every_single_day.
Solon
1 / 5 (6) Feb 29, 2016
New varieties, not species.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (4) Feb 29, 2016
New varieties, not species.

It does make me curious as to the inter-breeding capabilities.
I mean, can they? and still produce viable offspring?
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (8) Feb 29, 2016
It does make me curious as to the inter-breeding capabilities.
I mean, can they? and still produce viable offspring?
@Whyde
this is actually a hotly debated topic in biology... not only the single-mutation speciation but also the species problem

you can see some of that here with the "species problem" https://en.wikipe.../Species
Vietvet
4.7 / 5 (12) Mar 01, 2016
New varieties, not species.

It does make me curious as to the inter-breeding capabilities.
I mean, can they? and still produce viable offspring?


According to the authors the two species breed at the same time and at the same place but not with each other. According to them there in enough genetic differentiation and enough differences in morphology to be considered separate species. At least that's what I picked up with a very quick read.
http://journals.p...7#sec005
BEGINNING
1 / 5 (9) Mar 01, 2016
Speciation nas nothing to do with evolution. It is a rapid process, as can be seen, and depends on the specialization of the pre-existing genomic information.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2016
According to the authors the two species breed at the same time and at the same place but not with each other. According to them there in enough genetic differentiation and enough differences in morphology to be considered separate species. At least that's what I picked up with a very quick read.


I understand that they don't. But - could they successfully re-interbreed?
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2016
Speciation nas nothing to do with evolution. It is a rapid process, as can be seen, and depends on the specialization of the pre-existing genomic information.

Everything evolves VIA speciation...
Even that pre-existing info 'speciated", at one point. With the most successful adapters passing the selection test. DNA being the most successful "species"...
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2016
The tendency of biology is to diverge. Lions and tigers can mate but they are mortal enemies in the wild.

We recognize this tendency among humans. Tribalism has been the norm throughout our entire existence. Members of one tribe always consider those of other tribes a little less human than they.
https://youtu.be/gvDoT0HiCyI

This is the real source of prejudice. But you can't very well go telling people it's normal now can you?
jbunn
5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2016
Regarding interbreeding, consider dogs. Specifically, consider a Great Dane and a Chihuahua. They do not pass the interbreeding test without human involvement, even though they would produce viable (if not odd looking) offspring, given perhaps a step stool, or a running start.

Even though very genetically similar, are they on their way to being different species? Has human intervention provided what nature usualy provides through geographical separation or environment? This is not a question, just something to consider when we think about "interbreeding".
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Mar 01, 2016
Ah never mind.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2016
People that makes unreferenced claims on biology should at least check with google first.

- "Varieties" is a taxonomic rank, not a phylogenetic term, it is only applicable to botany taxonomy, and it is a rank below the species level. [ https://en.wikipe...mic_rank ]

- Speciation is a (very!) common outcome of the evolutionary process, as can be seen from taxonomy, and phylogenetics on fossils and genomes. "Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including the levels of species, ...". [ https://en.wikipe...volution ]

Trolling identified, and rejected by 10 s of google fu.
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (3) Mar 06, 2016
A demonstration of the fact that those who hold themselves out as "science" devotees actually know very little or are not willing to admit the truth if it works against their lies and someone else doesn't mention it.
The issue of speciation meaning a creature cannot interbreed. That means they cannot successfully mate with another species, and that means they may undergo the mating process and even produce offspring, but those offspring will not be "true", they will not resemble either parent and they will be incapable of producing offspring. But, promoting the lie, such as TheGhostofOtto1923 ignores the issue about offspring being sterile, if the matter isn't brought up, and only discusses them producing offspring. The liar is always willing to use a failing or fault on someone else's part to work against them.
Phys1
5 / 5 (4) Mar 06, 2016
@jp
How have you established that TGO1923 ignores this? It is clear that you are not an expert yourself, as some ligers are fertile:
https://en.wikipe...ertility
Why do you categorically disrespect everyone here and use terms like "truth" and "lie" when you obviously are near ignorant on the subject yourself?
A demonstration of the fact that those who hold themselves out as "science" devotees actually know very little or are not willing to admit the truth if it works against their lies and someone else doesn't mention it.

This is very foolish. Repent and apologise.
Phys1
5 / 5 (3) Mar 06, 2016
Speciation nas nothing to do with evolution. It is a rapid process, as can be seen, and depends on the specialization of the pre-existing genomic information.

You mean it is a consequence, a byproduct of evolution. It leads to different species that evolve independently and no longer share mutations. Thus speciation it is evidence of evolution, since evolution aims to explain speciation.
Phys1
5 / 5 (2) Mar 06, 2016
Regarding interbreeding, consider dogs. Specifically, consider a Great Dane and a Chihuahua. They do not pass the interbreeding test without human involvement, even though they would produce viable (if not odd looking) offspring, given perhaps a step stool, or a running start.

Even though very genetically similar, are they on their way to being different species? Has human intervention provided what nature usualy provides through geographical separation or environment? This is not a question, just something to consider when we think about "interbreeding".

There may be other reasons why interbreeding does not occur, such as geographic separation. If all dogs were left to do what comes natural without geographic separation they would return to be a single breed. Great Danes and Chihuahua would disappear.
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (4) Mar 06, 2016
Phys1 tries to discount what I say by insisting that "some ligers are fertile". What is "some"? That can be as small as 1 out of 1 million. And fertile with respect to what? To other ligers, or lions or tigers? And is the "fertility" obtained by in vitro operations, then the engineered embryo placed in the female?
With respect to "evolution" and speciation, consider, it is taken for granted in "science" that the development of mutations is random. That means it is at best unlikely that more than one creature with a new set of genes will be born at any time. It is incredibly unlikely that any animal will meet another with the same mutation to mate. And its progeny are equally unlikely to find any with the same nutation. And, in fact, its progeny are likely to mutate themselves even to go back to what it was before. In fact, no random process of change, uncontrolled by a powerful designer, seems likely not to produce any change.
Phys1
5 / 5 (6) Mar 07, 2016
@jp
Haven't you read the wikipedia article?
All your questions are answered there. There are only a few ligers in the world btw.
Why are you "quoting" science and evolution. Do you fear revenge from your brethren or from above ?
Your attempt to refute evolution is pathetic.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2016
Why do you categorically disrespect everyone here and use terms like "truth" and "lie" when you obviously are near ignorant on the subject yourself
NoNo jc - er jp - is right, otto failed to perform due diligence and research before posting.

But jp knows full well that there are many examples of species interbreeding. Here is a nice article on the subject.
http://m.discoverwildlife.com/animals/why-do-animals-interbreed?device=desktop

-And inability to interbreed is not the definitive qualifier of species.

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