Those of you who have read Darwin will know that he had a strong interest in domestication and artificial selection. People have argued about how important this was in his development of the idea of natural selection, but there is no doubt that it was at least relevant in his explanation of the mechanism. It is the first topic he discusses in the Origin, and the only subject that he meant to cover in greater detail that he actually returned to in a later publication (the two-volume The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, 1868).

I wrote a paper about domestication and what it can teach us about natural selection for the recent issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach, and I now see that Michael Purugganan and Dorian Fuller have authored a paper on this topic for the Feb. 12 issue of Nature (Darwin Day). I didn’t know about their paper, so it isn’t cited in my article, but I can at least give a link below. Another one that I learned about too late but which is recommended is by Melinda Zeder from a couple of years ago.

Gregory TR. 2009. Artificial selection and domestication: modern lessons from Darwin’s enduring analogy. Evolution: Education and Outreach 2: 5-27.

Purugganan MD and Fuller DQ. 2009. The nature of selection during plant domestication. Nature 457: 843-848.

Zeder MA 2006. Central questions in the domestication of plants and animals. Evolutionary Anthropology 15: 105-117.

For many more, see the references cited in my paper.