Rates of evolution on the time scale of the evolutionary process
- Cite this article as:
- Gingerich, P.D. Genetica (2001) 112: 127. doi:10.1023/A:1013311015886
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A generational time scale, involving change from one generation to the next, is the time scale of evolution by natural selection. Microevolutionary and macroevolutionary patterns reflect this process on longer time scales. Rates of evolution are most efficiently expressed in haldane units, H, in standard deviations per generation, indexed by the log of the time interval. Rates from replicated selection experiments and simulations have rate-interval [RI] and log rate-log interval [LRI] scaling relations enabling directional, stationary, and random time series to be distinguished. Empirical microevolutionary and macroevolutionary data exhibit stationary scaling, but point to generational rates of evolution (H0) conservatively on the order of 0.2 standard deviations per generation on the time scale of the evolutionary process. This paradox of long-term stationary scaling and short-term high rates of change can be explained by considering the shape of an heuristic time-form evolutionary lattice. Cenozoic mammals occupy a lattice that is about four orders of magnitude longer in time than it has ever been wide in form. The evolutionary process is dynamic but operates within relatively narrow morphological constraints compared to the time available for change.