What are Species?

Comparing and contrasting various definitions of species and species concepts and definitions.

Understanding Created Kinds and Species

A summary article defining and differentiating Created Kinds and Species.

Creationist Species Concepts

Katagenos Species Concept

The Katagenos Species Concept is based on the Theory of Created Kinds. It allows for a reproductive and genetic discontinuity between kinds and a continuity between breeds / species within a kind. The active dynamics for change within a Kind are communication and environmental acclimation through the mechanism of genetic selection of already existing DNA. It currently combines the terminology of Baraminology, breeding techniques, and Linnaean classification in order to express these concepts.

Revelatory Species Concept

The Revelatory Species Concept is based on Romans 1:18-20 which, according to Wise, “suggests that God created the universe with physical illustrations of His invisible attributes and God created humans with the ability to recognize those illustrations.”

What are the Mechanisms of Speciation?

– the formation of new and distinct species – lineage splitting –

Environmental Acclimation

Environment Acclimation is a selection of traits favorable for a given environment and is the primary cause of natural breeding and speciation. Mating selections are typically based on appearance / phenotype which in turn select the genetics behind those traits / genotype. This is similar to the evolutionary process of natural selection; however it can occur rapidly because already existing traits are chosen and no new genetic material must form over time.

Heritage Mating

When a member of a species decides to mate, it typically follows a pattern of Heritage Mating. Heritage Mating is the mating selection of individuals with the same surface characteristics as oneself – caused by having the same heritage (both genetically and culturally). Heritage Mating explains why hybridization and mixing of less common individuals is not the norm and why species continue with the same surface characteristics that define the species. It indirectly shows the differences that will become prezygotic barriers to reproduction.

Evolutionist Species Concepts

By some counts, at least 22 different (although maybe somewhat overlapping) species concepts have been proposed.R6 Each of them has their own benefits and problems which tend to be associated with the field of science for which they were made. A quick description of the more commonly encountered concepts will serve as an example.

Biological Species Concept

The Biological Species Concept was first proposed by Ernst Mayr and defines a species by the possibility of animals interbreeding. This system allows similar groups of animals (with only slight variation) to be grouped into the same species because they would probably interbreed if given the opportunity. This is difficult to test because animal populations that are separated, such as by geographic distance, do not give the opportunity to observe if they will actually interbreed.

Phylogenetic Species Concept

The Phylogenetic Species Concept states that geographically separated forms of the same type of animal should be considered distinct species. This does not consider whether the separated groups could interbreed. Instead, it considers that separated groups are independently evolving and therefore will be acquiring a unique genetic history. This has the effect of creating many more species than the Biological Species Concept.

Morphological Species Concept

The Morphological Species Concept (also known as the Typological Species concept) is the traditional method of determining species as used by Linnaeus and Darwin. This method categorizes species by phenotype (the observable appearance and anatomical features) of the organism involved. This method usually ignores geographic separation and, therefore, fewer species are made because all of the individual groups are taken as a single species. This method has generally lost favor as genetic studies have increased (except where asexual reproduction occurs).

Working with Paleospecies

The study of old or extinct species presents special problems in classification. The exact appearance of the animal is often limited to a few fossil samples and may only include bones. These samples may be separated not only geographically but chronologically, known as chronospecies, as well making classification more difficult as there are different morphs for similar creatures over time. Furthermore, it is not possible to test if one animal fossil could interbreed with another fossil or with a living relative today which makes the Biological Species Concept inapplicable to paleospecies.

Western Meadowlark Photo

Sturnellot neglectim

Meadowlark Example

The complications of these conflicting definitions are shown by comparing the Eastern and Western forms of the Meadowlark. These birds, by outward appearance, are almost identical and therefore could be considered a single species under the Morphological Species Concept. However, their ranges overlap and it is found that because their mating songs are different, they do not mate or interbreed together so they become separate species under the Phylogenetic Species Concept.

Last Updated: 27/10/2016
Todd Elder

Todd Elder

Todd Elder has a deep desire to understand and experience Creation. As a Baraminologist, his current research includes developing the Katagenos Species Concept, the Natanzera Classification System, and the Floral Formula Method of determining Plant Kinds. As an author and speaker, his books and seminar materials are designed to encourage a growing relationship with the Creator.
Todd Elder

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