According to Reznick and Ricklefs (2009) microevolution can be defined as an adaptation and macroevolution is speciation.  This simple differentiation is one that seems simple enough, but can cause some confusion in the sense that they are both forms of evolution.  In the classroom, microevolution is a concept that is more easily understood where microevolution often is misinterpreted and has the oppotunities to lead to misconceptions in the field of evoltuion. 
Difference between Micro-evolution and Macro-evolution02:26

Difference between Micro-evolution and Macro-evolution

The video has a great visual to go along with microevolution and macroevolution and how the two are connected, however, I do not necessarily like when he says, around 0:30, that one species turns into another species.  The visual is great though, so I suggest sneezing around the 0:30 mark and just watching his demonstrartion. 

Reznick, D. N., & Ricklefs, R. E. (2009). Darwin's bridge between microevolution and macroevolution. Nature, 457(7231), 837-842. doi:10.1038/nature07894

Here is some more information about the topic:

Macro-evolution vs micro-evolution:Edit

The following definitions are from the PBS Evolution website:Edit
PBS: Evolution (

macroevolution:: A vague term generally used to refer to evolution on a grand scale, or over long periods of time. There is no precise scientific definition for this term, but it is often used to refer to the emergence or modification of taxa at or above the genus level. The origin or adaptive radiation of a higher taxon, such as vertebrates, could be called a macroevolutionary event.

Some sources equate macro-evolution to speciation. Others consider any patterns and processes of evolution "above the level of population" as macroevolution.

source: Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes (ENSI) (

microevolution: Evolutionary changes on the small scale, such as changes in gene frequencies within a population.

In this article, "How to Win the Evolution War: Teach Macroevolution," Kevin Padian makes a great analogy to help the reader better understand the difference between micro-and macro-evolution:

"The difference between micro- and macroevolution is much like the difference between how  your town votes in an election and how the whole country votes: there are lots of agendas in different regions that don’t play out on every local stage, and how your town votes is not a necessary predictor of how the nation votes. That’s what keeps political scientists busy. And the relationships — which are not necessarily fractal — between micro and macroevolution keep evolutionists similarly busy."

The entire article can be accessed here: How to Win the Evolution War: Teach Macroevolution!:

Padian, K. (2010). How to win the evolution war: Teach macrooevolution. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 3 (2). 206-214.

The Understanding Evolution Team at UC Berkeley has this clear explanation and accompanying graphic:

New photo for micro and macro

evolution at different scales

After the picture, the "established mechansims of evolutionary change" are listed: mutation, migration, genetic drift, natural selection. Each one can be selected to access more detailed information about them.

note: The picture seems to be cut off, but if you click on it, you can see the whole thing!

The page can be accessed here: Understanding Evolution: Evolution at Different Levels

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