Does nothing in evolution make sense except in the light of population genetics?
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“The Origins of Genome Architecture” by Michael Lynch (2007) may not immediately sound like a book that someone interested in the philosophy of biology would grab off the shelf. But there are three important reasons why you should read this book. Firstly, if you want to understand biological evolution, you should have at least a passing familiarity with evolutionary change at the level of the genome. This is not to say that everyone interested in evolution should be a geneticist or a bioinformatician, but that a working knowledge of genetic change is an essential part of the intellectual toolkit of modern evolutionary biology, even if your primary focus is the evolution of behaviour or the diversity of communities. Secondly, this book provides excellent examples of another important tool in the biologist’s intellectual toolkit, but one that is rarely explained or illustrated to such an extent: null (or neutral) models. The role null models play in testing hypotheses in evolution is a central focus of this book. Thirdly, as an accomplished work of advocacy for a strictly microevolutionary view of evolution, this book provides grist for the mill for the important debate about whether population genetic processes are the sine qua non of evolutionary explanations.
KeywordsAdaptation Complexity DNA Gene duplication Modularity Neutral evolution Null models Population size
Many thanks to Brett Calcott, Kim Sterelny, Meg Woolfit and Rob Lanfear for helpful comments and discussions.
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