This book adopts an experimental approach to understanding the mechanisms of evolution and the nature of evolutionary processes, with examples drawn from microbial, plant and animal systems. It incorporates insights from remarkable recent advances in theoretical modelling, and the fields of molecular genetics and environmental genomics. Adaptation is caused by selection continually winnowing the genetic variation created by mutation. In the last decade, our knowledge of how selection operates on populations in the field and in the laboratory has increased enormously, and the principal aim of this book is to provide an up-to-date account of selection as the principal agent of evolution. In the classical Fisherian model, weak selection acting on many genes of small effect over long periods of time is responsible for driving slow and gradual change. However, it is now clear that adaptation in laboratory populations often involves strong selection acting on a few genes of large effect, while in the wild selection is often strong and highly variable in space and time. Indeed these results are changing our perception of how evolutionary change takes place.This book summarizes our current understanding of the causes and consequences of selection, with an emphasis on quantitative and experimental studies.
It includes the latest research into experimental evolution, natural selection in the wild, artificial selection, selfish genetic elements, selection in social contexts, sexual selection, and speciation.