Blackwell Publishing

The idea of a species - What are the reproductive species concepts?


The recognition species concept

The recognition species concept is a concept of species, according to which a species is a set of organisms that recognize one another as potential mates: they have a shared mate recognition system.

A good example of this can be found in the American cricket: Within a single habitat in the USA, as many as 30 or 40 different species of crickets may be breeding but the female cricket recognizes the song of males of her own species and will breed only with a male who sings that song. The song, and the female recognition of it, constitutes a mate recognition system: the species has a specific mate recognition system by which it can be identified.

The recognition concept should define very similar species to the biological concept: an isolation mechanism to keep species apart and a recognition mechanism to ensure breeding takes place within a species are, to a large extent, two sides of the same coin. For this reason, they are sometimes jointly referred to as the reproductive species concept.

Figure: a Y-shaped maze for testing the acoustic preference of a female cricket. Loudspeakers play the songs of different species from either side. From Bentley and Hoy (1974).

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