Backyard birdfeeders driving avian evolution

To: "Ross Macfarlane" <>
Subject: Backyard birdfeeders driving avian evolution
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Sat, 5 Dec 2009 12:01:32 +1000
There is probably a better discussion at

'Schaefer says it isn't clear whether the ecotypes will ever become separate species; in fact, he doubts they will because the habits of humans will tend to change over time. Even so, the findings do speak to the long-standing debate about whether geographic separation is necessary for speciation to occur. In particular, it had been contentious whether selection could act strongly and consistently enough in sympatry to separate a united gene pool. "In highly mobile organisms such as birds, the consensus is that sympatric speciation is extremely rare, mainly because it is difficult to envisage how gene pools could be kept separate until speciation has occurred," Schaefer said. "Our results now show that the initial steps of speciation can occur very quickly in a highly mobile, migratory bird," because divergent selection during the overwintering phase leads to the evolution of reproductive isolation. "This is a nice example of the speed of evolution," he added. "It is something that we can see with our own eyes if we only look closely enough. It doesn't have to take millions of years."'

On 05/12/2009, at 11:51 AM, Ross Macfarlane wrote:

That's not "challenging the conventional view", that's called sympatric speciation (as opposed to allopatric speciation, which is the result of geographic separation). It is well and truly part of "conventional" evolutionary theory:

But it's not unusual for a science journalist not to know much about science...

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