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Ecological Genetics

NCJ Number
Carrion Ecology Evolution and Their Applications Volume: 293 Dated: 2015
Date Published
0 pages

This chapter, “Ecological Genetics,” is from the Book entitled, “Carrion Ecology, Evolution, and Their Applications.” 


The famous twentieth-century biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the scientists credited with ushering in a “new synthesis” of evolutionary biology that incorporated genetics into the Darwinian framework, wrote a famous essay noting, “nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution” (Dobzhansky 1973). Yet, although the significance of this essay is obvious in the context of evolutionary biology, the importance of ecology to evolution, outlined in the same essay, is frequently overlooked. One of Dobzhansky’s principal arguments in the essay was that evolution occurs in response to the myriad environments available to organisms, so that diverse forms of life evolved to exploit them. This concept, connecting evolution and ecology, permeates the work of Dozhansky and his colleagues that pushed the new synthesis of evolutionary biology forward into the twentieth century. One of the hallmarks of the new synthesis was the origin of population and quantitative genetics, which are centered on two principles: (1) the demographic processes experienced by a population and (2) the selective pressures exerted on the members of a population. Clearly, ecology plays an important role in understanding population dynamics and selective pressures. For this reason, evolutionary and ecological studies are frequently linked: If you want to understand the ecology of a system, you must understand the evolutionary pressures in that system, and similarly if you want to study the evolution of an organism, you must understand its ecology. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2015