Chapter

The Importance of Experimental Studies in Evolutionary Biology

Douglas J. Futuyma and Albert F. Bennett

in Experimental Evolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780520247666
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944473 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520247666.003.0002
The Importance of Experimental Studies in Evolutionary Biology

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This chapter considers the place of experimental studies in evolutionary biology, first describing the advantages of experimental evolution and contrasting it with other approaches. The special strengths of experimental evolution lie in the essence of any experiment: replication and control. By replicating the number of populations exposed to the novel environment, an investigator can, in effect, repeat the opportunity for evolutionary change and determine whether the outcome has consistency. The novel experimental populations can be statistically compared with the group of control populations with the number of degrees of freedom determined by the number of independent replicates of each. The chapter also discusses two areas of evolutionary thought and theory to which experimental studies have made substantial contributions: the presence and generality of trade-offs, and the role of genetic drift during adaptation.

Keywords: evolutionary biology; experimental evolution; replication; control; trade-offs; genetic drift; adaptation

Chapter.  6906 words. 

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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