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sortingSortierung (ger.)

  • “Differential birth and death among varying organisms within a population”. (Vrba & Gould 1986).

    In Darwinian theory, evolutionary change is the product of sorting (differential birth and death among varying organisms within a population). Sorting is a simple description of differential representation; it contains, in itself, no statement about causes. As its core, Darwinism provides a theory for the causes of sorting—natural selection acting upon organisms in the “struggle for existence.” However, other processes (genetic drift, for example) produce sorting as well; thus, the two notions—sorting and selection (a favored theory for the causeof sorting)—are quite distinct and should be carefully separated.

    Vrba, E.S. & Gould, S.J. (1986). The hierarchical expansion of sorting and selection: sorting and selection cannot be equated. Paleobiol. 12, 217-228: 217.


    Vrba and I developed a terminology to resolve a common confusion in evolutionary theory between the simple, and purely descriptive, observation of differential reproductive success—which we named “sorting”—and the causal claim—always and properly called—“selection”—that observed success arises from interaction between properties of the relevant evolutionary individual and its environment

    Gould, S.J. (2002). The Structure of Evolutionary Theory: 659.