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Biological Species And Reproductive Isolation         Species Is A Latin Word

1157 words - 5 pages

Biological Species and Reproductive Isolation Species is a Latin word meaning ¡°kind¡± or ¡°appearance¡± (Dictionary). Indeed, we learn to distinguish between the kinds of plants or animals from differences in their appearance. Linnaeus, the founder of modern taxonomy, described individual species in terms of their physical form (Campbell, 446). However, species is not considered just as a population of similarly looking organisms any more.The most wildly accepted species definition, known as the biological species concept, was first enunciated by Ernst Mary, an evolutionary biologist (Biological Species Concept). The biological species concept defines a species as a population or group of populations whose members have the potential to interbreed with one another in nature to produce viable, fertile offspring, but who cannot produce viable, fertile offspring with members of other species (Campbell, 446). Members of a biological species are united by being reproductively compatible, at least potentially. For example, a male tax driver in New York has little probability of producing offspring with a female teacher in Mongolia, but if they should get together, they could produce offspring. Thus, they belong to the same biological species. In fact, all humans belong to the same biological species. In contrast, humans and chimpanzees remain distinct biological species even where they share territory, because the two cannot interbreed. Then, what makes two species reproductively incompatible? Reproductive barriers can be divided into two categories: Prezygotic barriers and postzygotic barriers.Prezygotic barriers impede mating between species or hinder the fertilization of ova, which are unfertilized eggs, if members of different species attempt to mate (Campbell, 447). Habitat isolation is a prezygotic barrier in which different habitual areas lead to reproductive incompatibility. For example, a snake in a species whose members live in water will not mate with another snake, which belongs to a different species whose members live on land.Signals and elaborate behaviors are important methods to attract and recognize mates among animals. For example, male fireflies of various species signal to females of their kind by blinking their lights in particular patterns (Campbell, 447). The females respond only to signals characteristic of their own species, flashing back and attracting the males. Even a little difference in blinking patterns of two species acts as a reproductive barrier in this example. This kind of reproductive barrier resulted from different behaviors of two species is called behavioral isolation.Two species that breed during different times of the day, different seasons, or different years cannot mix their gametes, which are sex cells. For example, the geographical ranges of the western spotted skunk and the eastern spotted skunk overlap, but these two very similar species do not interbreed...

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