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Experimental EvolutionConcepts, Methods, and Applications of Selection Experiments$
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Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247666

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247666.001.0001

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The Importance of Experimental Studies in Evolutionary Biology

The Importance of Experimental Studies in Evolutionary Biology

(p.14) (p.15) 2 The Importance of Experimental Studies in Evolutionary Biology
Experimental Evolution

Douglas J. Futuyma

Albert F. Bennett

University of California Press

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

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