Examples of Ring Species

M. G.

[From a series of emails discussing Ring Species, specifically referencing a Wikipedia article on Ring Species]:

Hmm i have read this article and its sources more than once. its how i first knew of this phenomena.
My problem is that all these articles detail morphology of the species.  this is of no interest to me though.
there seems to be confusion within the article.
the article says that ring species means, that a species varies enough, so as not be able to breed. with the other side of the ring.
the references of this article only talk about how the species are different tho. not about what can and cant breed together, or what efforts were taken to breed them.

This is why i sought help from you, because i cannot find direct references to a species diverging enough, so as not to breed anymore.
Everyone says that the proof exists, but no one can point me to the existence of this proof.

Can you clarify this for me? 


Okay, I think I can try to clarify.  You are really just looking for examples of documented speciation, if I understand you correctly.

The ring species phenomenon is interesting in what it demonstrates, but understand it is also fairly rare.  There have only been around 20 or so proposed examples, and only a handful of those hypotheses have been confirmed through genetic analysis.  The most well-studied had to do with a particular species of salamander, studied in the 1940's, and confirmed through genetic analysis much more recently.  Most importantly to your question, various members at different points in the "ring" **DO** interbreed, producing hybrids which do not reproduce further (so the hybrids are not a distinct species).  But, members at the ends of the ring cannot interbreed any longer, as there is too much genetic variation.
Here is a link to a PBS page (albeit written for laymen) about this particular study: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/05/2/l_052_05.html
If you are talking about speciation in general, and has it ever been documented happening within the lifetime of the researchers, yes, it has, though this is rare, as speciation usually is so long and gradual, no one has a chance to "catch it happening" in a single study.  But, there are examples nevertheless.  In fact, this is answered on my site: http://www.evolutionfaq.com/faq/has-evolution-ever-been-observed

Please see the references on that question.  They usually aren't dramatic speciation events (like reptiles suddenly turning into birds), but they do demonstrate genetic variations sufficient enough to prevent breeding with the source population, yet also able to interbreed and produce viable and fertile offspring, which is what defines the creation of a new species.

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