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12 November, 2015 - 11:15

Speciation occurs along two main pathways: geographic separation (allopatric speciation) and through mechanisms that occur within a shared habitat (sympatric speciation). Both pathways force reproductive isolation between populations. Sympatric speciation can occur through errors in meiosis that form gametes with extra chromosomes, called polyploidy. Autopolyploidy occurs within a single species, whereas allopolyploidy occurs because of a mating between closely related species. Once the populations are isolated, evolutionary divergence can take place leading to the evolution of reproductive isolating traits that prevent interbreeding should the two populations come together again. The reduced viability of hybrid offspring after a period of isolation is expected to select for stronger inherent isolating mechanisms.