Species Selection: Theory and Data
Species selection in the broad sense—also termed species sorting—shapes evolutionary patterns through differences in speciation and extinction rates (and their net outcome, often termed the emergent fitness of clades) that arise by interaction of intrinsic biological traits with the environment. Effect-macroevolution occurs when those biotic traits, such as body size or fecundity, reside at the organismic level. Strict-sense species selection occurs when those traits are emergent at the species level, such as geographic range or population size. The fields of paleontology, comparative phylogenetic analysis, macroecology, and conservation biology are rich in examples of species sorting, but relatively few instances have been well documented, so the extent and efficacy of the specific processes remain poorly known. A general formalization of these processes remains challenging, but approaches drawing on hierarchical covariance models appear promising. Analyses integrating paleontological and neontological data for a single set of clades would be especially powerful.