Species flock

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In evolutionary biology, a species flock is a diverse, primarily monophyletic,[1] group of closely related species in an isolated area.

A species flock may arise when a species penetrates a new geographical area and diversifies to occupy a variety of ecological niches; this process is known as adaptive radiation. The first species flock to be recognized as such was the 13 species of Darwin's finches on the Galápagos Islands described by Charles Darwin.

A species flock may also arise when a species acquires an adaptation that allows it to exploit a new ecological niche.

All the members of a species flock usually share one or more synapomorphies.[1]


The Antarctic notothenioid fishes are a species flock of 122 marine fishes that have an adaptation that allows them to survive in the freezing, ice-laden waters of the Southern Ocean because of the presence of an antifreeze glycoprotein in their blood and body fluids.

The cichlids are a group of perciform fishes that contains a number of species flocks found in the lakes and rivers of central and southern Africa. The species flocks of the haplochromine cichlids comprised hundreds of species within less than 100,000 years.[2]

Evidence suggest that the Hamlet fishes, found in coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, are species flock.[3]


  1. ^ a b What Is a Species Flock? What Is a Metaflock? - malawicichlids.com[self-published source?]
  2. ^ Meyer, A (2005). "Evolutionary Biology: Cichlid species flocks of the past and present". Heredity 95 (6): 419–20. doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6800722. PMID 16030527. 
  3. ^ McCartney, Michael A.; Acevedo, Jenny; Heredia, Christine; Rico, Ciro; Quenoville, Brice; Bermingham, Eldredge; McMillan, W. Owen (2003). "Genetic mosaic in a marine species flock". Molecular Ecology 12 (11): 2963–73. doi:10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.01946.x. PMID 14629377.