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Rates of Evolution

Book description

How fast is evolution, and why does it matter? The rate of evolution, and whether it is gradual or punctuated, is a hotly debated topic among biologists and paleontologists. This book compiles and compares examples of evolution from laboratory, field, and fossil record studies, analyzing them to extract their underlying rates. It concludes that while change is slow when averaged over many generations, on a generation-to-generation time scale, evolution is rapid. Chapters cover the history of evolutionary studies, from Lamarck and Darwin in the nineteenth century to the present day. An overview of the statistics of variation, dynamics of random walks, processes of natural selection and random drift, and effects of scale and time averaging are also provided, along with methods for the analysis of evolutionary time series. Containing case studies and worked examples, this book is ideal for advanced students and researchers in paleontology, biology, and anthropology.


'Philip D. Gingerich, renowned among paleontologists for his research on the evolution of mammals, has been a leading authority on rates of evolution for more than three decades. His analyses of evolution on different time scales have been critical to understanding this important, sometimes controversial, subject. Rates of Evolution: A Quantitative Synthesis will provide insights and statistical approaches that will interest a broad range of researchers and students working in evolutionary biology and paleontology.'

Douglas Futuyma - State University of New York, Stony Brook

'This book is a deeply thought-out, scholarly and lucid account of how to connect measurements of contemporary evolution with evolution as revealed in the fossil record. Rigorous and quantitative throughout, it will be a stimulating primer for professional evolutionary biologists. There is no other book like it.'

Peter Grant - Princeton University, New Jersey

'Using evidence from many fields of biology, paleontology, and beyond, Gingerich’s Rates of Evolution is a comprehensive synthesis of a pillar of the evolutionary paradigm. This book is a sophisticated analysis of quantitative empirical data integrated with evolutionary theory. It is destined to be an authoritative reference and much-cited classic in evolutionary biology.'

Bruce MacFadden - Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

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