Are there species smaller than 1 mm?

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

Abstract

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.

  • Received May 17, 2013.
  • Accepted July 2, 2013.
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© 2013 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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