40 Years of Evolution

40 Years of Evolution

Darwin's Finches on Daphne Major Island

Book - 2014
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Princeton University Press

Renowned evolutionary biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant have produced landmark studies of the Galápagos finches first made famous by Charles Darwin. In How and Why Species Multiply, they offered a complete evolutionary history of Darwin's finches since their origin almost three million years ago. Now, in their richly illustrated new book, 40 Years of Evolution, the authors turn their attention to events taking place on a contemporary scale. By continuously tracking finch populations over a period of four decades, they uncover the causes and consequences of significant events leading to evolutionary changes in species.

The authors used a vast and unparalleled range of ecological, behavioral, and genetic data--including song recordings, DNA analyses, and feeding and breeding behavior--to measure changes in finch populations on the small island of Daphne Major in the Galápagos archipelago. They find that natural selection happens repeatedly, that finches hybridize and exchange genes rarely, and that they compete for scarce food in times of drought, with the remarkable result that the finch populations today differ significantly in average beak size and shape from those of forty years ago. The authors' most spectacular discovery is the initiation and establishment of a new lineage that now behaves as a new species, differing from others in size, song, and other characteristics. The authors emphasize the immeasurable value of continuous long-term studies of natural populations and of critical opportunities for detecting and understanding rare but significant events.

By following the fates of finches for several generations, 40 Years of Evolution offers unparalleled insights into ecological and evolutionary changes in natural environments.

Book News
Darwin's finches have long been considered a model population for study of adaptive radiation, speciation, and population biology. This volume gives the results of forty years of intensive study of evolution in action in the finches of Daphne Major island in the Galapagos. The book is hardbound, extremely high quality, and includes abundant color photographs and charts. Topics covered include everything from speciation and hybridization processes to seasonal diet, breeding biology, disease, and predators. Changes in vegetation and their effects are observed over most of a century. The study's term allowed observation of the effects on Daphne Major's finches of a species new to the island, the Large Ground Finch, an accidental colonist in an El Nino year which established a breeding population. A valuable final section looks at the need for long term field studies to understand long-term processes, which most biological theory relies on but which are rarely studied in the field. Appendices offer a concentrated summary of decades of data. The book is designed for students and professionals in various areas of biological science, from theorists in evolution and population biology to field professionals in wildlife ecology and ornithology. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Publisher: Princeton ;, Oxford :, Princeton University Press,, [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780691160467
Characteristics: xxxii, 400 pages : illustrations (some color), maps (some color) ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Grant, B. Rosemary
Alternative Title: Forty years of evolution


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