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What are reproductive isolating mechanisms?

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Quick Answer

Miami University explains that reproductive isolating mechanisms are a set of behavioral and physiological processes set to prevent members of different species from breeding with one another. According to the University, these mechanisms include ecological isolation, temporal isolation, behavioral isolation, mechanical isolation and gametic isolation.

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According to the University of Miami, reproductive isolating mechanisms that prevent breeding between two species are known as prezygotic isolating mechanisms. These mechanisms block hybridization by either preventing breeding between species at all or preventing fertilization and implantation.

According to the Department of Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, there are other types of reproductive isolating mechanisms that are known as postzygotic reproductive isolating mechanisms, which ensure that extant hybrids are not able to pass on their genes. The university explains that postzygotic reproductive isolating mechanisms include hybrid inviability, hybrid sterility and hybrid breakdown; each of which ensures that the hybrid offspring of two different species are sterile or otherwise unsuited to pass on their genes.

Berkeley University further explains that reproductive isolating mechanisms are crucial to the survival of a species. This results from the fact that interbreeding species lose the unique differences they gain in order to adapt to their different environments.

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