Abiogenesis & Evolution

Selection

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Analyses of physiological evolutionary response.

Entrez PubMed: "Selection studies are useful if they can provide us with insights into the patterns and processes of evolution in populations under controlled conditions. In this context it is particularly valuable to be able to analyze the limitations of and constraints on evolutionary responses to allow predictions concerning evolutionary change. The concept of a selection pathway is presented as a means of visualizing this predictive process and the constraints that help define the population's response to selection. As pointed out by Gould and Lewontin, history and chance are confounding forces that can mask or distort the adaptive response. Students of the evolutionary responses of organisms are very interested in the effects of these confounding forces, since they play a critical role not only in the laboratory but also in natural selection in the field. "

Analyses of physiological evolutionary response. Bradley TJ, Folk DG. Physiol Biochem Zool. 2004 Jan-Feb;77(1):1-9.

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Multi-Level Selection

The Woodstock of Evolution -- The World Summit on Evolution (ScientificAmerican.com): Leticia Aviles, a zoologist at the University of British Columbia, summarized the evidence for 'multilevel selection.'

Stephen Jay Gould coined the deliberately pejorative term 'Darwinian fundamentalists' for those who believe that the individual organism is the sole target of natural selection. Aviles said that selection may occur at the level of genes, chromosomes, organelles, and cells. Selection may occur at the level of social groups, demes, species, and multispecies communities. In a sense, Aviles said, 'individual' depends on the frame of reference.

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optimization

EVOLUTION: ON OPTIMIZATION: "Optimization has its critics. The most common objection centers on the mistaken belief that the aim of this method is to test whether organisms are optimal. Actually, it is the assumptions of optimality that are tested. The failure to find support for a prediction can be used to determine whether an assumption is wrong. For example, if animals do not select the diet that maximizes energy intake, it may be because they are choosing a diet that optimizes a balance of different components, or that avoids the costs associated with obtaining larger prey. Once such possibilities have been identified, a new theory can be devised and its predictions tested. It has been argued that this process is circular but in practice it is no different from the successive predicting and testing that underlies most science.["

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