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Monday, October 17, 2016

Extending evolutionary theory? - Melinda Zeder

I will be attending the Royal Society Meeting on New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives. I'll post each of the abstracts and ask for your help in deciding what question to pose to the speakers. Here's the abstract for Melinda Zeder's talk on Domestication: a model system for evolutionary biology.

In his book The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication Darwin used domestication as a model system to explore his theories about the role of natural selection in evolution. Gregor Mendel used peas to trace the rules of heredity that formed the basis of the science of genetics, and that, when combined with Darwinian evolution, formed the basis of the Modern Synthesis. It seems only appropriate for domestication to serve once again as a model system for assessing how recent insights into the role of multiple shaping processes and forms of inheritance can be incorporated into an extended understanding of evolution. This presentation explores the value of domestication in evaluating core assumptions that differentiate the classical Modern Synthesis and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis including: 1. reciprocal causation, 2. developmental processes as drivers of evolutionary change, 3. inclusive inheritance, and 4. the tempo and rate of evolutionary change.
Melinda Zeder works at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (USA). I think I'll ask her what domestication teaches us about the fixation of deleterious alleles by random genetic drift and how that fits into Darwin's ideas and her view of the Modern Synthesis.

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