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Exploring the Status of Population Genetics: The Role of Ecology

Millstein, Roberta L. (2012) Exploring the Status of Population Genetics: The Role of Ecology. [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    The status of population genetics has become hotly debated among biologists and philosophers of biology. Many seem to view population genetics as relatively unchanged since the Modern Synthesis and have argued that subjects such as development were left out of the Synthesis. Some have called for an extended evolutionary synthesis or for recognizing the insignificance of population genetics. Yet others such as Michael Lynch have defended population genetics, declaring "nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of population genetics" (a twist on Dobzhansky's famous slogan that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution"). Missing from this discussion is the use of population genetics to shed light on ecology and vice versa, beginning in the 1940s and continuing until the present day. I highlight some of that history through an overview of traditions such as ecological genetics and population biology, followed by a slightly more in-depth look at a contemporary study of the endangered California Tiger Salamander. I argue that population genetics is a powerful and useful tool that continues to be used and modified, even if it isn't required for all evolutionary explanations or doesn't incorporate all the causal factors of evolution.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Forthcoming in Biological Theory, special issue on the “The Meaning of ‘Theory’ in Biology.” The final version may deviate somewhat from this version.
    Keywords: California Tiger Salamander • Ecology • Ecological genetics • Evolution • Modern Synthesis • Population biology • Population genetics
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
    Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
    Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
    Depositing User: Dr. Roberta L. Millstein
    Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2012 20:00
    Last Modified: 12 Jul 2012 20:00
    Item ID: 9226
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9226

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