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Darwinian extinction (also known as "evolutionary suicide") refers to processes of selection-driven self-extinction, i.e. the cases where natural selection causes the extinction of an evolving population.

In the literature, there are many models of life-history evolution and (to a lesser extent) experiments with bacteria in which Darwinian extinction has been demonstrated. However, I couldn't find anywhere real-world examples (i.e. not from models or experiments) of Darwinian extinction of complex organisms within more or less constant environment.

Do we know of such examples?
And if we do, could you please refer me to them?

Edit: A mechanism of the Darwinian extinction could be, for example, the emergence of ”selfish” strategies w.r.t frequency-dependent selection, which are beneficial to individuals when rare, but may result in a deteriorating environment and smaller population size once they become common.

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    $\begingroup$ I think the OP is looking for something like an example of mutational meltdown or an example of a selfish genetic element driving extinction. In short an example of extinction that is of particular interest to evolutionary and conservation geneticists. I think the current answers (despite one being generously upvoted) do not answer the question. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Jul 27 '16 at 15:51
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Although you don't mention it in your question, I guess you'd like examples of extinction in (more or less) constant environment? Then I guess you'd like cases of extinction due to the introduction of an overseas species out-competing the original one.

Red squirrel is not extinct yet, but its sharp population decrease is mostly linked with competition with newly introduced grey squirrel, although habitat loss and concurrent introduction of a virus are also part of the causes. Read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_squirrel

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  • $\begingroup$ It could be worth noting that the most important component of the decline is actually squirrelpox virus, which causes subclinical infection in greys but kills reds. $\endgroup$ – arboviral Jul 27 '16 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ Well, wouldn't resistance to pathogens be part of Darwinian fitness? Although it is true that the virus is reported to have been introduced along with grey squirrels, thus it's difficult to decouple the population reduction due to its introduction and the interspecies competition. $\endgroup$ – Joce Jul 27 '16 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, constant environment. And thank you for the example, looks promising. But I was more interested in ”selfish” strategies w.r.t frequency-dependent selection, if you know of any such examples. I'll edit my question. $\endgroup$ – 101010111100 Jul 27 '16 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @joce it would, yes. 'Competition' is a broad description of what is happening; I'm just suggesting this answer might be improved by a more specific description of the mechanism. $\endgroup$ – arboviral Jul 27 '16 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexDeLarge: As this is not appropriate for a comment, I have started a new question to discuss this. See biology.stackexchange.com/questions/49246/… $\endgroup$ – Joce Jul 29 '16 at 11:17
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It hard to find example like that because evolutionary suicide does not mean it must end with extinction

I think this 2 words is not equal. Member of every specie would evolve into something disadvantage to specie as a whole, but then it would rapidly lead to equilibrium and/or evolution arm race before extinct

I could say most predator evolve to starve their specie, if they have many offspring then the prey would all gone and they will starve to death as a whole. But before all prey die the predator would gradually fall and the prey member will rise up again into equilibrium

There are also specie that develop infanticide or cannibalism. But before that specie gone extinct the group that develop those trait would have decrease, those group would gone extinct before the whole specie, or at least some group without those trait would have better chance to survive

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  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't really answer the question. And by definition, Darwinian extinction results in extinction. $\endgroup$ – 101010111100 Jul 27 '16 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ @101010111100 Darwinian extinction is extinction but evolutionary suicide is not the same word $\endgroup$ – Thaina Jul 27 '16 at 13:18
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The loss of self-incompatibility (gaining the ability to breed with oneself) in the Nightshade family has been demonstrated to result in both a higher diversification rate and an even higher extinction rate, overall leading to a lower diversification rate in self-compatible lineages.

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.702.1437&rep=rep1&type=pdf

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