- Cryptic animal species are homogeneously distributed among taxa and biogeographical regions (2007)
- Background Cryptic species are two or more distinct but morphologically similar species that were classified as a single species. During the past two decades we observed an exponential growth of publications on cryptic species. Recently published reviews have demonstrated cryptic species have profound consequences on many biological disciplines. It has been proposed that their distribution is non-random across taxa and biomes. Results We analysed a literature database for the taxonomic and biogeographical distribution of cryptic animal species reports. Results from regression analysis indicate that cryptic species are almost evenly distributed among major metazoan taxa and biogeographical regions when corrected for species richness and study intensity. Conclusion This indicates that morphological stasis represents an evolutionary constant and that cryptic metazoan diversity does predictably affect estimates of earth´s animal diversity. Our findings have direct theoretical and practical consequences for a number of prevailing biological questions with regard to global biodiversity estimates, conservation efforts and global taxonomic initiatives.
- Introduction: extent, processes and evolutionary impact of interspecific hybridization in animals (2008)
- Since the time of Charles Darwin, studies of interspecific hybridization have been a major focus for evolutionary biologists. Although this phenomenon has often been viewed as problematic in the fields of ecology, taxonomy and systematics, it has become a primary source of data for studies on speciation and adaptation. Effects from genetic/evolutionary processes, such as recombination and natural selection, usually develop over extended periods of time; however, they are accelerated in cases of hybridization. Interspecific hybrids exhibit novel genomes that are exposed to natural selection, thus providing a key to unravel the ultimate causes of adaptation and speciation. Here we provide firstly a historic perspective of hybridization research, secondly a novel attempt to assess the extent of hybridization among animals and thirdly an overview of the reviews and case studies presented in this theme issue.
- The contribution of differential hatching success to the fitness of species and interspecific hybrids (2007)
- Resting egg banks of microcrustaceans have been used to reconstruct the evolutionary and ecological history of species. However, recent studies provided evidence for a discrepancy between dormant propagules in the sediment and the planktonic population. This pattern raises two questions: First, what is the value of data on resting egg banks for population dynamics over time and second, which component of the reproductive cycle causes the observed inconsistency? In our study we focussed on the second question by comparing the taxon composition of a resting egg bank with the reproductive success of ex-ephippial hatchlings. Species and interspecific hybrid identification of dormant and hatched stages was achieved through the application of restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of an internal transcribed spacer region. We found no significant deviation between the proportion of hatched Daphnia galeata, D. galeata x hyalina and D. hyalina individuals and the observed taxon composition of the resting egg bank. However, species and hybrids differed in their mode and relative success of reproduction. We conclude that the components of reproductive success in Daphnia contribute differentially to the fitness of species and interspecific hybrids. The discrepancy between resting egg banks and ‘‘active’’ planktonic populations results not from differential hatching of species but from the reproductive success of ex-ephippial females and the timing and frequency of sexual reproduction of the different taxa.