Research shows evolution in real time illustrating interaction between ecology and evolution

Guppy (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In a research to record the interaction of environment and evolution, led by the University of California under Riverside biologist David Reznickhas has found new information illustrating the evolution of a population of guppies.

“We’re detailing how evolution happens,” Reznick, a professor of biology, said.

He also added, “Usually people look at evolution as change over time but they don’t know the details of how it changes.”

The findings, that appeared online Aug. 19 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, show how real time evolution can be resolved into differences among fathers in siring sons, which could be attributed to how successful the father is in finding mates or how long he lives.

prof reznick
Image: David Reznick is a distinguished professor of biology at UC Riverside. CREDIT: L. DUKA

“People think of evolution as historical. They don”t think of it as something that”s happening under our nose. It is a contemporary process. People are skeptical; they don”t believe in evolution because they can”t see it. Here, we see it. We can see if something makes you better able to make babies and live longer,” Reznick said.

“Animals can change their environment around them and that change can adapt to how they evolve. The idea of ecology and evolution interacting is a different view. If you look at ecological evolution, it treats animals as a constant. But this research has recorded the guppies evolving and how they change their environment as they evolve. An interaction between ecology and evolution could yield entirely different results from what you would expect if you modeled the process without the interaction.”

“What we set out to do is watch and get a real sense of how evolution happens. The path is unpredictable and it is happening now.”

VideoMaking of the Fittest: Evolution of the Stickleback Fish — HHMI BioInteractive Video (Channel: biointeractive)

Original Research Paper

Read about a Missing link in Evolution


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