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Despeciation is the loss of a unique species of animal due to its combining with another previously distinct species.[1] It is the opposite of Speciation and is much more rare. It is similar to extinction in that there is a loss of a unique species but without the associated loss of a biological lineage.

Example of three-spined sticklebacks[edit]

The three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

For example, Taylor et al.'s genetic analysis of three-spined sticklebacks across six lakes in southwestern British Columbia found two distinct species in 1977 and 1988 but only one combined species in data from 1997, 2000, and 2002.[2] They concluded that external factors had imperiled the living conditions of the two species, thus eliminating the evolutionary specializations that had kept them unique.


  1. ^ "Despeciation". Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Taylor EB, Boughman JW, Groenenboom M, Sniatynski M, Schluter D, Gow JL (February 2006). "Speciation in reverse: morphological and genetic evidence of the collapse of a three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) species pair.". Mol Ecol.