Are there species smaller than 1 mm?

Axel G. Rossberg, Tim Rogers, Alan J. McKane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
218 Downloads (Pure)


The rapid advance in genetic sequencing technologies has provided an unprecedented amount of data on the biodiversity of meiofauna. It was hoped that these data would allow the identification and counting of species, distinguished as tight clusters of similar genomes. Surprisingly, this appears not to be the case. Here, we begin a theoretical discussion of this phenomenon, drawing on an individual-based ecological model to inform our arguments. The determining factor in the emergence (or not) of distinguishable genetic clusters in the model is the product of population size with mutation rate—a measure of the adaptability of the population as a whole. This result suggests that indeed one should not expect to observe clearly distinguishable species groupings in data gathered from ultrasequencing of meiofauna.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Issue number1767
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


  • ecological species concept
  • lineages-throughtime plots
  • adaptive dynamics
  • individualbased models
  • competition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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