Sympatric speciation is speciation that occurs without physical separation of members of the population, as often is due to a reproductive separation of the population. This speciation phenomenon most commonly occurs through polyploidy, in which an offspring or group of offspring will be produced with twice the normal number of chromosomes. Where a normal individual has two copies of each chromosome (diploidy), these offspring may have four copies (tetraploidy). A tetraploid individual cannot mate with a diploid individual, creating reproductive isolation.
Sympatric speciation is rare. It occurs more often among plants than animals, since it is so much easier for plants to self-fertilize than it is for animals. A tetraploidy plant can fertilize itself and create offspring. For a tetraploidy animal to reproduce, it must find another animal of the same species but of opposite sex that has also randomly undergone polyploidy.
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