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Exploring Speciation Due to Environment

Changes to Birds in Habitats

Environment Acclimation is a selection of traits favorable for a given environment and is the primary cause of natural breeding and speciation. Mating selections are typically based on appearance / phenotype which in turn select the genetics behind those traits/genotype.

This is similar to the evolutionary process of natural selection; however it can occur rapidly because already existing traits are chosen and no new genetic material must form over time.

Habitats

The habitat or environment where an individual or population lives is considered to be one of the strongest influences on breeding or genetic selection. The environmental pressures created by heat or cold, dry or wet, and rocky or fine soils all help to determine what characteristics will do best in that environment. For example, in an open environment, running fast could be an important trait for both prey and predator.

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Micro-Habitats

Micro-habitats further refine the traits in a population. For example, a mountain habitat would typically have a southern slope which receives more sun than the northern slope. They can also have areas of steep slopes or even vertical walls. Depending on the prevailing winds and conditions, one side may be quite moist while the other side is quite dry. Each of these conditions would favor a different characteristic.

Adaptive Radiation

The concept of adaptive radiation is an evolutionary concept in which a species enters a new environment and, through such processes as mutation and natural selection, develops into new species up to and including possessing new forms and features. Therefore, this can include both micro- and macro- evolutionary changes.

Environmental Acclimation

A term is needed which can express that small changes, such as skin or flower color, can be effected by the environment which does not allow for the formation of new genetic information. I put forward Environmental Acclimation.

Furry Animal Example

For example, a furry animal that has the genetic variability for long, medium, or short length fur is carried to several different environments and released. Within a hot climate, short haired animals will do better. Similarly, in a cold environment long-haired animals will do better. In a wet environment oily-furred animals will do better because it keeps the skin dry.

Over time, the genes for a specific fur type thrive and become common while the other gene type(s) will decrease or disappear. During this process, no new genetic information was needed nor was any change in form observed. The animal population simply acclimated to the environmental pressures.

Habitats Before and After the Flood

Birds Before the Flood
Birds Before the Flood

Presumably, the world was in much worse shape after the Flood. The environment had changed drastically and probably included new things like rain and snow as well as hot deserts and frozen areas. It probably now included mountains and tropical areas. As the animals emerged from the Ark and began migrating, they would begin acclimating to these environments. Such acclimation would be limited to what existed within the gene pool of any given population.

Bird Species After the Flood
Bird Species After the Flood

Acclimation after the Flood

According to a scriptural timeline, about 4,300 years have passed since the time of the flood. This probably included an ice age shortly after the period of the flood. During this time, rapid diversification would have occurred within animal kinds as they spread out and moved into new habitats. This diversification is not a sign of evolution in progress, but is instead simply the breeding out of characteristics that already exist within the animals.

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Post flood Speciation

During the time after the flood, there would be a large number of new habitats available to plants and animals that did not exist before the flood. This would have brought about a period of rapid speciation as the major characteristics for animal species were bred out to match those environments.

Because of the limited number of animals that were contained on the Ark and the many species found today, evolutionists have suggested we believe in some form of “ultra-fast evolution” or “super fast post-flood adaptation” to make this amount of speciation occur in only 4,500 years. However, this thinking is flawed.

They are using the evolutionary means of mutation, adaptive radiation, and genetic build-up to bring about the changes necessary to produce these many species. Instead, creationists view this as selection of already existing genetic traits, which does not take long periods of time.

Adaptive Radiation is an evolutionary process. It implies mutation and change of form over long periods of time. Acclimation is changing within one individual’s ability to fit into an environment.

Acclimitization is the ability of a group to fit into an environment over time. Both involve the process of selecting the best genes for the habitat or niche – and this does not involve long time scales, mutation, or change of basic form. It is breeding for the best characteristics for that environment.

Post-Flood Speciation probably was somewhat rapid. As each Kind moved away from the ark, it would encounter different habitats and within each habitat certain genes were selected for that habitat. Then, the types within each of those habitats would find micro-habitats or niches to settle into and further develop a refined set of characteristics causing the appearances we call species today.

If we assume there were 50 kinds of beetle immediately following the flood, and assume there are about 300,000 species of beetle today, then a simple average would be about 6000 species of beetle for each surviving kind. 6000 species over a 4,500 year period is not that difficult to breed. Consider that in the last two centuries or so man has bred hundreds of types of dogs.

Founder Effect

This type of dispersal includes what is commonly called Founder Effect in population genetics. When only a few individuals of a larger population move into a new habitat or territory and reproduce independently of the larger population, the group incurs a reduced genetic variation. It is a genetic bottleneck at the local level. This can cause the local group to have a differing genotype (allele frequency) and phenotype (appearance).

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A serial Founder Effect occurs when a small part of the local population moves out and forms an even narrower genetic population. This typically happens when populations migrate over long distances rapidly followed by periods of settlement. Each settlement has its own unique subset of the original group.

As habitats become full, the period of rapid speciation slows and even stops. When habitats change, then speciation rates speed up again. Therefore, there is an ecological limit to the number of species a Kind can have.

Defining Heritage

When a member of a species decides to mate, it typically follows a pattern of Heritage Mating. Heritage Mating is the mating selection of individuals with the same surface characteristics as oneself – caused by having the same heritage (both genetically and culturally). Heritage Mating explains why hybridization and mixing of less common individuals is not the norm and why species continue with the same surface characteristics that define the species. It indirectly shows the differences that will become prezygotic barriers to reproduction.

Heritage selections are made because, presumably, a species that has acclimated to an environment has the best characteristics for that environment and wants to continue with those same characteristics. Often this is done with just physical features, but in some cases it can be done by culture as well.

Post Flood Extinction of the Ark Kinds

Extinction is not a driving force or cause for change. Instead, it is a result of an inability of the individual to mate with others of its breed or go back and hybridize with others of its kind. It typically comes from the inability to acclimate to changing environments which in turn challenges its survival. This is primarily caused by a lack of genetic variation or over-specialization of that breed. When extinction occurs due to environmental changes, other species or Kinds with traits favorable for that new environment will likely be ready to move in and fill that environment.

In summary:

  • The Kinds were created
  • Speciation (within a Kind) occurred until the flood
  • The Kind was preserved on the Ark
  • Speciation occurred again after the flood
  • Today we see the results of post-flood speciation within a kind (with perhaps a few pre-flood species preserved as fossils).

Todd Elder

Written by Todd Elder

Todd Elder has a deep desire to understand and experience Creation. As a Baraminologist, his current research includes developing the Katagenos Species Concept, the Natanzera Classification System, and the Floral Formula Method of determining Plant Kinds. As a Believer, he is also active as the owner of Scripture Advocate Publishing, founder of the Encouraging Life Children’s Mission, and director of the Creation Science League. As author and speaker, his books and seminar materials are designed to encourage a growing relationship with the Creator. Visit his web home at Yahshuah.net/creation

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