Article: Is Macroevolution More Than Successive Rounds of Mircoevolution?
Whether macrovolution is reducible to microevolution is one of the persistent debates in evolutionary biology. Although the concept of emergence is important to answering this question, it has not been extensively discussed within palaeobiology. A taxonomy of emergence concepts is presented to clarify the ways in which emergence relates to this debate. Weak emergence is a particularly helpful way to understand the hierarchical nature of biology: it captures the ways in which higher-level traits depend on lower-level processes, while recognizing that emergent traits can nonetheless provide the basis for autonomous higher-level theories. A brief review of the biological literature suggests that geographical range size is weakly emergent. While some concepts of emergence do not block the attempt to reduce macroevolution (i.e. the attempt to explain all macroevolutionary phenomena in terms of microevolutionary processes), weak emergence does. Thus, if geographical range is weakly emergent, it provides a basis for arguing that macroevolutionary phenomena cannot be fully explained by microevolutionary processes.