The vast majority of biologists engaged in evolutionary studies interpret virtually every aspect of biodiversity in adaptive terms. This narrow view of evolution has become untenable in light of recent observations from genomic sequencing and populationgenetic theory. Numerous aspects of genomic architecture, gene structure, and developmental pathways are difficult to explain without invoking the nonadaptive forces of genetic drift and mutation. In addition, emergent biological features such as complexity, modularity, and evolvability, all of which are current targets of considerable speculation, may be nothing more than indirect byproducts of processes operating at lower levels of organization. These issues are examined in the context of the view that the origins of many aspects of biological diversity, from gene-structural embellishments to novelties at the phenotypic level, have roots in nonadaptive processes, with the population-genetic environment imposing strong directionality on the paths that are open to evolutionary exploitation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)