Biodiversity Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (9): 1004-1008.doi: 10.17520/biods.2016222

Special Issue: Red List of China’s Vertebrates

• Orginal Article • Previous Article     Next Article

“The integrative species concept” and “species on the speciation way”

Jianquan Liu*()   

  1. Key Laboratory for Bio-resources and Eco-environment of Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064
  • Online:2016-10-09
  • Liu Jianquan

One of the diverse species concepts defined before may only perceive one aspect of the mature species like “the blind men feel the elephant” while the mature species at the final speciation stage should have integrated all species concepts. Most “species” in the nature are on the way to the final speciation stage. However, before reaching the final speciation stage, these species undertake further cycles of speciation. Species from the repeated splits of the incomplete divergences show incomplete reproductive isolations, frequent interspecific gene flow and reticulate evolutions. In addition, the earliest divergent gene differs between different pairs of species. Therefore, the divergence orders for different species concepts vary greatly between organisms. Such random divergences lead to the extreme difficulty to define a common and accurate species concept for all “species” on the speciation way. It is better to delimitate species, publish new species and conduct taxonomic revisions based on conditions and approaches of as many species concepts as possible. In addition, incomplete reproductive isolations, limited interspecific gene flow and some ‘abnormal’ individuals not ascribed to any species due to interspecific hybridizations and within-population mutations should be widely acknowledged during species delimitations. Such circumscribed species may be more objective and scientific than previously delimitated based only on one single species concept.

Key words: integrative species concept, on the speciation way, random divergence, species delimitation

Fig. 1

One of the diverse species concepts defined before may only perceive one aspect of the mature species like “the blind men feel the elephant”"

Fig. 2

Different species concepts (in different colors) may be gradually fulfilled along the divergences of one ancestral species into two or three (radiative diversification) species. Before the late speciation stage, the incomplete diverged daughter species undergo further cycles of speciation (arrows). Gene flow and genetic changes may occur frequently between these assumed “species” due to the incomplete reproductive isolations."

[1] Abbott RJ, Hegarty MJ, Hiscock SJ, Brennan AC (2010) Homoploid hybrid speciation in action. Taxon, 59, 1375-1386.
[2] Coyne JA, Orr A (2004) Speciation. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA.
[3] Darwin C (1859) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Presentation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. John Murray, London.
[4] de Queiroz K, Donoghue MJ (1988) Phylogenetic systematics and the species problem. Cladistics, 4, 317-338.
[5] Feder JL, Flaxman SM, Egan SP, Comeault AA, Nosil P (2013) Geographic mode of speciation and genomic divergence. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 44, 73-97.
[6] Fennessy J, Bidon T, Reuss F, Vamberger M, Fritz W, Jank A (2016) Multi-locus analyses reveal four giraffe species. Current Biology, 26, 1-7.
[7] Grant V (1981) Plant Speciation. Columbia University Press, New York.
[8] Mallet J (1995) A species definition for the modern synthesis. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 10, 294-299.
[9] Mao KS, Liu JQ (2012) Current ‘relicts’ more dynamic in history than previously thought. New Phytologist, 196, 329-331.
[10] Mayr E (1963) Animal Species and Evolution. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
[11] Qi XS, Chen C, Comes HP, Sakaguchi S, Liu YH, Tanaka N, Sakio H, Qiu YX (2012) Molecular data and ecological niche modelling reveal a highly dynamic evolutionary history of the East Asian Tertiary relict Cercidiphyllum (Cercidiphyllaceae). New Phytologist, 196, 617-630.
[12] van Valen L (1976) Ecological species, multispecies, and oaks. Taxon, 25, 233-239.
[13] Wilkins JS (2006) A list of 26 species “concepts” source.. (accessed on 2016-08-01
[14] Wilkins JS (2009) Species: A History of the Idea. University of California Press, Berkeley.
[15] Yassin A, Capy P, Madi-Ravazzi L, Ogereau D, David JR (2008) DNA barcode discovers two cryptic species and two geographical radiations in the invasive drosophilid Zaprionus indianus. Molecular Ecology Resources, 8, 491-501.
[16] Zhou CF, Yang G (2011) Existence and Definition of Species. Science Press, Beijing. (in Chinese)
[周长发, 杨光 (2011) 物种的存在与定义. 科学出版社, 北京.]
[1] De-Yuan Hong, Shiliang Zhou, Xingjin He, Junhui Yuan, Yanlong Zhang, Fangyun Cheng, Xiuli Zeng, Yan Wang, Xiuxin Zhang. (2017) Current status of wild tree peony species with special reference to conservation . Biodiv Sci, 25(7): 781-793.
[2] De-Yuan Hong. (2016) Biodiversity pursuits need a scientific and operative species concept . Biodiv Sci, 24(9): 979-999.
[3] Qiner Yang. (2016) Comments on species-level taxonomy of plants in China . Biodiv Sci, 24(9): 1024-1030.
Full text