punctuated equilibrium

Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

punc·tu·at·ed equilibrium

1. The theory that the evolution of life on earth typically follows a pattern in which long periods of little morphological change are punctuated by relatively short periods of significant change, when speciation occurs.
2. Evolutionary development of this kind.

punc′tuated equilib′rium

a theory that the evolution of species proceeds with long periods of relative stability interspersed with rapid change. Compare gradualism (def. 2).

punc·tu·at·ed equilibrium

The theory that new species evolve suddenly over relatively short periods of time, followed by longer periods in which little genetic change occurs. Punctuated equilibrium is a revision of Darwin's theory that evolution takes place at a slow, constant rate over millions of years. Compare gradualism. See Note at evolution.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.punctuated equilibrium - a theory of evolution holding that evolutionary change in the fossil record came in fits and starts rather than in a steady process of slow change
evolutionism, theory of evolution, theory of organic evolution - (biology) a scientific theory of the origin of species of plants and animals
References in periodicals archive ?
Schopf, although somewhat skeptical of the punctuated equilibrium hypothesis, encouraged publication of papers defending it by Gould; perhaps the strongest was Gould's 1980 resume, "Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?
Another purpose of the study was to determine if, as predicted by punctuated equilibrium theory, radical organizational changes are more effective in withdrawing commitment to runaway projects than are incremental measures.
In one chapter of Punctuated Equilibrium, political scientist Frank Baumgartner writes similarly of "social cascade effects.
This is likely the pattern recognized in Niles Eldredge and Stephen Gould's punctuated equilibrium (Eldredge and Gould 1972; Gould 1980).
While punctuated equilibrium (PE) reflected in the fossil record is a strong negative evidence to the underlying principle of phyletic gradualism (PG) enshrined in the evolutionary theory, the phenomenon of cell-directed mutagenesis challenges another tenet of the theory, namely, the requirement of stochastic mutations produced by extra-cellular agents to create heritable changes in the organism.
The most insistent claims that Gould makes for his revised version of Darwinian theory involve concepts that are familiar to biologists but may sound arcane to the general reader: punctuated equilibrium, hierarchical selection, exaptation, deep homology, and developmental channeling, among others.
As such, it's possible that the scientific notion of punctuated equilibrium - that evolution in nature occurs in steps rather than continuously and as a result of catastrophic events - could also explain coal markets.
Individuals who follow a punctuated equilibrium path use more steps, abruptly break from corporate life, and start an unrelated business for investment and growth.
Hawkes then claims that Niles Eldredge and Gould developed the punctuated equilibrium model of evolution as a replacement for what creationists like Hawkes choose to call "Darwinism.
Science will decide the relative merits of their arguments over topics such as punctuated equilibrium, speciation and the nature of complexity.
The book is sown through with a vocabulary of adaptive organisms, fitness, punctuated equilibrium, replication and other concepts from evolutionary science.