Species is defined as the smallest unit in the modern classification system, and can be identified by the ability of two organisms in the same species to reproduce fertile offspring. Think of lions and tigers. A lion can breed with another lion to produce a lion cub, which will one day mate and produce another, and so can tigers. But while lions and tigers seem similar enough, an offspring of one lion and one tiger (a liger) cannot reproduce with another liger, so lions and tigers are not a part of the same species,...
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...may interrupt mating between them. These isolating mechanisms often lead to populations undergoing evolution on their own, without interference from other populations, and may then lead to the formation of a completely different species between them (depending on the population’s respective environments). As the changes within the populations become more prominent, the greater the variations become between generations, and the farther and farther apart the two different populations become genetically. Eventually, the wolves in the previous example are no longer wolves, but two different species. This is the process of speciation. This can occur through cladogenesis, when a species branches out from an ancestral population to give rise to two or more descendent populations, or through anagenesis, a sustained directional shift in a population’s general characteristics.
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