Here's a photograph of many varieties of hybrid radish. It's from the Botany Photo of the Day posted on Darwin's birthday by Nhu Nguyen to illustrate speciation in action.
Please visit the UBC website to see the entire posting. I'd like to comment on one particular statement. Nhu Nguyen writes,
This is a weedy species that grows in coastal (and some central) areas of California. According to research by Norman Ellstrand's group at UC Riverside, this species is evolving in a quantifiable manner. It is a hybrid between Raphanus sativus, the common radish, and Raphanus raphanistrum.What is the evidence that natural selection is acting one these variants? I doubt that there's any evidence at all.
Curiously, the same hybrid occurs elsewhere in similar climates such as that of South Africa, but something special about ecosytems in California allowed it to proliferate. It is now different enough from either of its parents that Ellstrand's group is considering describing this as a new species. This has occurred within the timespan that the two parents were brought together by humans in California."
There are many color variations of this evolving species. It is exactly through this variation that the process of natural selection works. If allowed to go its own way, some of these color morphs may persist, others may perish, all depending on the selective forces present where they occur. Eventually, each of these via time and selection could become a species of its own. California thus would be the center of diversity for a new group of Raphanus species.
While it's true that evolution may result in many of these variants becoming separate species, there's no reason to suppose that there are "selective forces" working on different colored flowers. It could just as easily happen that one or more colored variations could become fixed in a new species by random genetic drift.
I'm not sure what the problem is here. Is it just sloppy language on the part of some botanists? Do they use the words "natural selection" as a synonym for "evolution" without thinking about it? Or, are they confirmed adaptationists who actually believe that all visible phenotypes must be subject to selection?
There seem to be a large number of scientists who think that all speciation events are driven by natural selection. This was (mostly) what Darwin thought but I was previously under the impression that this had changed in the 20th century to recognize that random genetic drift plays an important role in speciation.