Abstract

The nature and definition of species continue to be matters of debate. Current views of species often focus on their nature as lineages -- maximal reproductive communities through time. Whereas many authors point to the Evolutionary Species Concept as optimal, in its original form it stressed the ecological role of species as well as their history as lineages, but most recent authors have ignored the role aspect of the concept, making it difficult to apply unambiguously in a time-extended way. This trend has been exacerbated by the application of methods and concepts emphasizing the notion of monophyly, originally applied only at higher levels, to the level of individuals, as well as by the current emphasis on molecular data. Hence, some current authors recognize units that are no more than probable exclusive lineages as species. We argue that biodiversity is inherently a phenotypic concept and that role , as manifested in the organismal extended phenotype, is a necessary component of the species concept. Viewing species as historically connected populations with unique role brings together the temporal and phenotypic natures of species, providing a clear way to view species both in a time-limited and time-extended way. Doing so alleviates perceived issues with “paraphyletic species” and returns the focus of species to units that are most relevant for biodiversity.

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