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Chance in Evolution

Grant Ramsey and Charles H. Pence


Evolutionary biology since Darwin has seen a dramatic entrenchment and elaboration of the role of chance in evolution. It is nearly impossible to discuss contemporary evolutionary theory in any depth at all without making reference to at least some concept of “chance” or “randomness.” Many processes are described as chancy, outcomes are characterized as random, and many evolutionary phenomena are thought to be best described by stochastic or probabilistic models. Chance is taken by various authors to be central to the understanding of fitness, genetic drift, macroevolution, mutation, foraging ... More

Keywords: chance, evolution, Charles Darwin, contingency, natural selection, genetic drift, mutation, history of biology, macroevolution

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780226401744
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226401911.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Grant Ramsey, editor
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Charles H. Pence, editor
Louisiana State University

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1 The Historical Development and Implications of Chance in Evolution

Chapter 3 Chance in the Modern Synthesis

Anya Plutynski, Kenneth Blake Vernon, Lucas John Matthews, and Daniel Molter

2 Chance in the Processes of Evolution

Chapter 8 Parallel Evolution: What Does It (Not) Tell Us and Why Is It (Still) Interesting?

Thomas Lenormand, Luis-Miguel Chevin, and Thomas Bataillon

3 Chance and Contingency in the History of Life