Hybridization of Bird Species

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Science  10 Apr 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5054, pp. 193-197
DOI: 10.1126/science.256.5054.193


Hybridization, the interbreeding of species, provides favorable conditions for major and rapid evolution to occur. In birds it is widespread. Approximately one in ten species is known to hybridize, and the true global incidence is likely to be much higher. A longitudinal study of Darwin's finch populations on a Galápagos island shows that hybrids exhibit higher fitness than the parental species over several years. Hybrids may be at an occasional disadvantage for ecological rather than genetic reasons in this climatically fluctuating environment. Hybridization presents challenges to the reconstruction of phylogenies, formulation of biological species concepts and definitions, and the practice of biological conservation.

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