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Chance in Evolution$
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Grant Ramsey and Charles H. Pence

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226401744

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226401911.001.0001

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Parallel Evolution: What Does It (Not) Tell Us and Why Is It (Still) Interesting?

Parallel Evolution: What Does It (Not) Tell Us and Why Is It (Still) Interesting?

(p.196) Chapter 8 Parallel Evolution: What Does It (Not) Tell Us and Why Is It (Still) Interesting?
Chance in Evolution

Thomas Lenormand

Luis-Miguel Chevin

Thomas Bataillon

University of Chicago Press

Parallel evolution has been used as “proof” of a bewildering array of sometimes contradictory assertions: that Darwinism is wrong, that selection is all powerful, that the modern synthesis is incomplete, that chance matters, or that chance does not matter. Perhaps most importantly, parallel evolution is a source of fascination, as the evolution of a particular life form is seen as one of the least probable chains of events imaginable. Our stance is that both chance and history do matter in evolution. Beyond reasserting these well-known points, the central question is what parallel evolution (or the lack thereof) tells us about evolutionary processes. First, we argue that the topic of parallel evolution crystallizes a series of unsolved issues that have fueled recurrent debates throughout the history of evolutionary genetics. Second, we discuss the implications of parallel evolution at different biological levels. Third, we review the causes of genotypic and phenotypic parallel evolution. Fourth, we show how parallel evolution can be modeled and the additional insights brought by theory. We conclude with a series of questions for future work, and by stressing that using explicit phenotypic landscape models is a useful way to resolve controversies emerging from the observation of parallel evolution.

Keywords:   mutationism, selectionism, convergent evolution, prediction, fitness landscapes, Fisher's geometric model, distribution of fitness effects, population genetic theory, experimental evolution

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