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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


NESPOLO, ROBERTO F.. Evolution by natural selection: more evidence than ever before. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2003, vol.76, n.4, pp.699-716. ISSN 0716-078X.

The modern evolutionary theory, understood as the integration of the empirically-demonstrated theoretical foundations of organic evolution, is one of the most pervasive conceptual frameworks in biology. However, some debate has arisen in the Chilean scientific community regarding the legitimacy of natural selection as a mechanism that explains adaptive evolution. This review surveys the recent evidence for natural selection and its consequences on natural and artificial populations. In addition to the literature review, I present basic conceptual tools for the study of microevolution at the ecological scale, from a quantitative point of view. The outcome is clear: natural selection can be, is being, and has been quantified and demonstrated in both the field and in the laboratory,not many, but hundred of times during the past decades. The study of evolution by natural selection has attained maturity, which is demonstrated by the appearance of several syntheses and meta-analyses, as well as "evolutionary applications" where evolution by natural selection is used to resolve practical problems in disciplines other than pure biology. Caution is required when challening evolutionary theory. The abundant evidence supporting this conceptual body demands a careful examination of available evidence before dogmatically critizing its theoretical foundations

Keywords : evolution; natural selection; adaptations; heritability; directional selection differential; artificial selection.

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