Category Archives: speciation

Today: Rosemary Grant gives an online talk on speciation

Rosemary Grant, along with her partner Peter Grant at Princeton, have done pathbreaking work on speciation, particularly in the finches of the Galápagos islands. (They’re a close team, and even share one Wikipedia page). Their work, for example, has revealed unexpected levels of hybridization between what were considered “good” species, and of course the duo, […]

How often do bird species hybridize?

There are many reasons why we want to know how often distinct species hybridize, i.e., form individuals resulting from the mating of a male from one species with a female from a different species. For one thing, if this kind of mixing was very frequent, it would be hard to recognize distinct species as the […]

My last research paper. Part 3: Significance

In the past week I’ve written two posts about what I think will be the last “research paper” I write, i.e., a paper in which I actually did work at the bench (pushing flies). I’ve covered the paper at some length because I think the experiment is cool, because the results were conclusive, and because […]

The Washington Post refuses to correct scientific errors

Two days ago I analyzed an article about hybrid parrots that had just appeared in the Washington Post. It was grossly misleading in assuming that two parrots of different “species” (they weren’t—one was a hybrid) had mated and produced, lo, a parrot of another “new species” (also wrong). I tweeted my correction to the Washington […]

Not even wrong: The Washington Post botches a biology story

A misguided science story just appeared in the Washington Post. Read on. I will claim some expertise in this critique because my field of study is speciation. Indeed, I literally wrote the book on speciation in collaboration with Allen Orr. But regardless of my “science cred”, Theresa Vargas, a local reporter for the Post, apparently […]

A misguided philosopher claims that species don’t exist

I won’t say that philosophers in general have nothing to contribute to debates about the nature of biological species, but this philosopher certainly does: Henry Taylor, a fellow in philosophy at the University of Birmingham. His paper in The Conversation (click on screenshot below) not only says that the most used species concept in evolutionary […]

Railing about rails again: No, Science, it’s NOT THE SAME SPECIES!

UPDATE: Science has now corrected its post by issuing the addendum below.  As you’ll see in the comments below, author Alex Fox credits this post for the correction, which is gentlemanly of him. Thanks to reader Barry for the spot. *************** It is a truth universally acknowledged that the two most prestigious science journals in […]

Epigenetics: the return of Lamarck? Not so fast!

I noticed that there’s a new book out by Peter Ward, a biology professor at the University of Washington who’s done a lot of work on nautilus cepalopods. (He’s also written several trade books in biology.) Here’s his new book, and, as you can see, the cover touts epigenetics as “Lamarck’s Revenge” (Jean-Baptiste Lamarck [1744-1829] […]

My short intro to the genetics of speciation

UPDATE: If you want a pdf of my article, which seems to be behind a paywall, just inquire judiciously. _________________   The journal Molecular Ecology is producing a special issue on “Sex chromosomes and speciation”, which will contain about 17 papers. Some of these have already been published online, and though there’s not yet a […]

“Reverse speciation” (fusion of species) in ravens

At least a dozen readers have called my attention to a new paper in Nature Communications by Anna M. Kearns et al. (reference at bottom, pdf here), supposedly showing “reverse speciation” in ravens. The paper has received a lot of public attention because it claims to show that two distinct species of ravens have fused back […]