Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Evolutionary Change

  • Dakota E. McCoy
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2094-1



Evolutionary change is the heritable change in populations and species over time, due to mechanisms such as natural selection, random genetic drift, and sexual selection.


Evolution is heritable change over time, through which species change, diverge, and sometimes create new lineages. “Evolution” and “natural selection” are often used interchangeably, but the two are distinct: evolution is the pattern, and natural selection is one of many mechanisms that causeevolution. Under natural selection, organisms which are better adapted to their environment have more (or healthier) offspring, so their traits are more often passed on to future generations. In this manner, natural selection drives evolution. However, other mechanisms can also drive evolution, such as random genetic “drift,” or random changes in genes and traits over time, artificial selection by humans for human-desired traits in other organisms, and sexual selection...

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Karin Machluf
    • 1
  1. 1.Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA