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Is the number of species on earth increasing or decreasing?: Time, chaos and the origin of the species
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2013 (English)In: Palaeontology, ISSN 0031-0239, E-ISSN 1475-4983, Vol. 56, no 6, 1305-1325 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Darwin's On the Origin of Species has led to a theory of evolution with a mass of empirical detail on population genetics below species level, together with heated debate on the details of macroevolutionary patterns above species level. Most of the main principles are clear and generally accepted, notably that life originated once and has evolved over time by descent with modification. Here, I review the fossil and molecular phylogenetic records of the response of life on Earth to Quaternary climatic changes. I suggest that the record can be best understood in terms of the nonlinear dynamics of the relationship between genotype and phenotype, and between climate and environments. The origin of species' is essentially unpredictable, but is nevertheless an inevitable consequence of the way that organisms reproduce through time. The process is chaotic', but not random'. I suggest that biodiversity is best considered as continuously branching systems of lineages, where species' are the branch tips. The Earth's biodiversity should thus (1) be in a state of continuous increase and (2) show continuous discrepancies between genetic and morphological data in time and space.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 56, no 6, 1305-1325 p.
Keyword [en]
evolution, origin of species, biodiversity, chaos, species
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-216010DOI: 10.1111/pala.12057ISI: 000328349800010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-216010DiVA: diva2:688816
Available from: 2014-01-17 Created: 2014-01-17 Last updated: 2014-01-17Bibliographically approved

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