Say what?

Here is an abstract to a forthcoming paper in Trends in Genetics:

Evolution is a quest for innovation. Organisms adapt to changing natural selection by evolving new phenotypes. Can we read this dynamics in their genomes? Not every mutation under positive selection responds to a change in selection: beneficial changes also occur at evolutionary equilibrium, repairing previous deleterious changes and restoring existing functions. Adaptation, by contrast, is viewed here as a non-equilibrium phenomenon: the genomic response to time-dependent selection. Our approach extends the static concept of fitness landscapes to dynamic fitness seascapes. It shows that adaptation requires a surplus of beneficial substitutions over deleterious ones. Here, we focus on the evolution of yeast and Drosophila genomes, providing examples where adaptive evolution can and cannot be inferred, despite the presence of positive selection.

No it isn’t. No they don’t. Oh, by the way, the authors appear to be physicists.

Mustonena, V. and Lässiga, M. 2009. From fitness landscapes to seascapes: non-equilibrium dynamics of selection and adaptation. Trends in Genetics, in press.

Evolution: Education and Outreach, vol. 2 issue 1.

This year, Evolution: Education and Outreach will have a special (but not exclusive) focus on Darwin in celebration of the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species.

The first issue in volume 2 is now available, once again free online.

Evolution: Education and Outreach
Volume 2, Issue 1

Editorial: Darwin’s Year
Niles Eldredge and Gregory Eldredge

Why Darwin?
Niles Eldredge

Artificial Selection and Domestication: Modern Lessons from Darwin’s Enduring Analogy
T. Ryan Gregory

Charles Darwin and Human Evolution
Ian Tattersall

Experimenting with Transmutation: Darwin, the Beagle, and Evolution
Niles Eldredge

Studying Cultural Evolution at the Tips: Human Cross-cultural Ecology
Lauren W. McCall

Industrial Melanism in the Peppered Moth, Biston betularia: An Excellent Teaching Example of Darwinian Evolution in Action
Michael E. N. Majerus

Assessment of Biology Majors’ Versus Nonmajors’ Views on Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design
Guillermo Paz-y-Miño C. and Avelina Espinosa

Darwin’s “Extreme” Imperfection?
Anastasia Thanukos

Don’t Call it “Darwinism”
Eugenie C. Scott and Glenn Branch

Educational Malpractice: The Impact of Including Creationism in High School Biology Courses
Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner

Scholar’s Dilemma: “Green Darwin” vs. “Paper Darwin,” An Interview with David Kohn
Mick Wycoff

The “Popular Press” Responds to Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species and His Other Works
Sidney Horenstein

Paleontology and Evolution in the News
Sidney Horenstein

Charles Darwin’s Manuscripts and Publications on the World Wide Web
Adam M. Goldstein

Teaching Evolution in Primary Schools: An Example in French Classrooms

Bruno Chanet and François Lusignan

Why Why Darwin Matters Matters
Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design, by Michael Shermer. New York: Henry Holt, 2006.
Tania Lombrozo

DeSalle’s and Tattersall’s Human Origins: A Companion to The Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Human Origins and More
Human Origins: What Bones and Genomes Tell Us about Ourselves, by Rob DeSalle and Ian Tattersall. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2008. Pp. 216. H/b $ 29.95
Robert Wald Sussman

I am not certain whether the dedication we wrote to the late Dr. Majerus will appear online, but I am hoping it will be included in the print issue. Here it is, just in case.

This issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach includes a paper by Prof. Michael Majerus of Cambridge University, a world expert on industrial melanism and a champion of the peppered moth as an excellent example of natural selection in the wild. In it, Prof. Majerus describes the controversy surrounding the peppered moth, much of it based on misrepresentations and misunderstandings. He also describes, with extraordinary modesty, his own widely respected research which has refuted the misplaced criticism of the peppered moth example.

We consider the paper a testament to Prof. Majerus’s patience and dedication to settling debates in science as they should be settled – with evidence rather than rhetoric. In this regard, Prof. Majerus’s paper not only highlights an exquisite example of evolution in action, but also serves to illustrate how careful scientific study generates outstanding results.

It is with deep regret that we note that Prof. Majerus passed away peacefully during the night of January 26/27 from a brief but severe illness. As Prof. David Summers, Head of the Department of Genetics at Cambridge, wrote

“Mike Majerus was a traditional Cambridge scientist; a charismatic individual for whom the boundaries between life and work, and teaching and research, were very hard to discern. He was a world authority in his field, a tireless advocate of evolution and an enthusiastic educator of graduate and undergraduate students.”

We are proud to present Prof. Majerus’s article on the peppered moth and are grateful for his contribution to the journal, for his important and diligent research, and for his dedication to defending and enhancing science education. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. He will be missed.

T. Ryan Gregory
Associate Editor

Niles Eldredge

Science – speciation.

Today’s issue of Science is on speciation. The papers:

Species Uncertainties
Robert M. May and Paul H. Harvey
Science 6 February 2009: 687.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Darwin
Andrew Sugden, Caroline Ash, Brooks Hanson, and Laura Zahn
Science 6 February 2009: 727.

The Red Queen and the Court Jester: Species Diversity and the Role of Biotic and Abiotic Factors Through Time
Michael J. Benton
Science 6 February 2009: 728-732.

Adaptive Radiation: Contrasting Theory with Data
Sergey Gavrilets and Jonathan B. Losos
Science 6 February 2009: 732-737.

Evidence for Ecological Speciation and Its Alternative
Dolph Schluter
Science 6 February 2009: 737-741.

The Bacterial Species Challenge: Making Sense of Genetic and Ecological Diversity
Christophe Fraser, Eric J. Alm, Martin F. Polz, Brian G. Spratt, and William P. Hanage
Science 6 February 2009: 741-746.

Is Genetic Evolution Predictable?
David L. Stern and Virginie Orgogozo
Science 6 February 2009: 746-751.

See also:

Elizabeth Pennisi
Science 6 February 2009: 706-708.

EVOLUTION: The Overwhelming Evidence
Massimo Pigliucci
Science 6 February 2009: 716-717.

Wallace Arthur
Science 6 February 2009: 717.

Time’s Stamp on Modern Biogeography
J. Alistair Crame
Science 6 February 2009: 720-721.

Signature of the End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction in the Modern Biota
Andrew Z. Krug, David Jablonski, and James W. Valentine
Science 6 February 2009: 767-771.

Sequential Sympatric Speciation Across Trophic Levels
Andrew A. Forbes, Thomas H.Q. Powell, Lukasz L. Stelinski, James J. Smith, and Jeffrey L. Feder
Science 6 February 2009: 776-779.

Don’t call it Darwinism

For those of you who still are not reading Evolution: Education and Outreach, here’s another reason to check it out.

Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education have a nice article coming out in the next issue entitled “Don’t call it Darwinism“. It is already free to access in preprint.

While you’re at it, you can have a look at the special issue on eye evolution, and my first contribution to a series entitled “Evolutionary Concepts” on artificial selection.

Evolutionary gems — Nature.

Nature recently provided a list of “15 evolutionary gems“.

…the document summarizes 15 lines of evidence from papers published in Nature over the past 10 years. The evidence is drawn from the fossil record, from studies of natural and artificial habitats, and from research on molecular biological processes.

In a year in which Darwin is being celebrated amid uncertainty and hostility about his ideas among citizens, being aware of the cumulatively incontrovertible evidence for those ideas is all the more important. We trust that this document will help.

The peppered moth.

The peppered moth, Biston betularia, has been used as a classic example of natural selection in action. This moth (like many others) includes both light and dark forms that change in frequency under conditions of higher or lower pollution. Anti-evolutionists have challenged this, and unfortunately they gained ammunition in this regard from a book review by Jerry Coyne.

As part of their Top 10 evolution articles, New Scientist provides a story entitled Reclaiming the peppered moth for science.

Bad news, the New Scientist story is subscription only.

Good news, Evolution: Education and Outreach will include a paper about the peppered moth by leading expert Michael Majerus in the next issue, and it’s a) already available in pre-print, and b) free.

While you’re visiting the journal, check out the last issue which is a special volume all about eyes.

Special issue of the Lancet.

From The Evolution & Medicine Review, a notification about the special issue of the Lancet on evolution. (And don’t forget the special issue of E:EO!).


Steve Jones

Darwinism’s fantastic voyage

Helena Cronin, Oliver Curry

The Origin of Species

Richard Harries

Art and evolution

Tom Lubbock

Evolution: medicine’s most basic science

Randolph M Nesse

The evolution of fruit-fly biology

Ralph J Greenspan, Martin Kreitman

Socioeconomic inequalities in ageing and health

Robert L Perlman

Forebears and heirs: a sketch

David Sharp

Synthetic biology

Henry Nicholls

Darwin’s charm

Peter Hayward

Bold flights of a speculative mind

Andrew Bell

Darwin and the philosophers

Athar Yawar

Darwin’s writing

Richard Horton

Race, genetics, and medicine at a crossroads

John Hardy

Epigenetics in evolution and disease

Manel Esteller

Antibiotic resistance: adaptive evolution

George PC Salmond, Martin Welch


21st century eugenics?

Nancy E Hansen, Heidi L Janz, Dick J Sobsey

All about eye evolution.

The most recent issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach is now available free online. This is a special issue devoted to the evolution of eyes. Enjoy.

Evolution: Education and Outreach
Volume 1 Issue 4
The evolution of eyes
Edited by T. Ryan Gregory


351. Editorial by Gregory Eldredge and Niles Eldredge (PDF)

352-354. Introduction by T. Ryan Gregory (PDF)

355-357. Casting an Eye on Complexity by Niles Eldredge (PDF)

Original science / evolution reviews

358-389. The Evolution of Complex Organs by T. Ryan Gregory (PDF)
(Blog: Genomicron)

390-402. Opening the “Black Box”: The Genetic and Biochemical Basis of Eye Evolution by Todd H. Oakley and M. Sabrina Pankey (PDF)
(Blog: Evolutionary Novelties)

403-414. A Genetic Perspective on Eye Evolution: Gene Sharing, Convergence and Parallelism by Joram Piatigorsky (PDF)

415-426. The Origin of the Vertebrate Eye by Trevor D. Lamb, Edward N. Pugh, Jr., and Shaun P. Collin (PDF)

427-438. Early Evolution of the Vertebrate Eye—Fossil Evidence by Gavin C. Young (PDF)

439-447. Charting Evolution’s Trajectory: Using Molluscan Eye Diversity to Understand Parallel and Convergent Evolution by Jeanne M. Serb and Douglas J. Eernisse (PDF)

448-462. Evolution of Insect Eyes: Tales of Ancient Heritage, Deconstruction, Reconstruction, Remodeling, and Recycling by Elke Buschbeck and Markus Friedrich (PDF)

463-475. Exceptional Variation on a Common Theme: The Evolution of Crustacean Compound Eyes by Thomas W. Cronin and Megan L. Porter (PDF)

476-486. The Causes and Consequences of Color Vision by Ellen J. Gerl and Molly R. Morris (PDF)

487-492. The Evolution of Extraordinary Eyes: The Cases of Flatfishes and Stalk-eyed Flies by Carl Zimmer (PDF)
(Blog: The Loom)

493-497. Suboptimal Optics: Vision Problems as Scars of Evolutionary History by Steven Novella (PDF)
(Blog: NeuroLogica)

Curriculum articles

498-504. Bringing Homologies Into Focus by Anastasia Thanukos (PDF)
(Website: Understanding Evolution)

505-508. Misconceptions About the Evolution of Complexity by Andrew J. Petto and Louise S. Mead (PDF)
(Website: NCSE)

509-516. Losing Sight of Regressive Evolution by Monika Espinasa and Luis Espinasa (PDF)

Book reviews

548-551. Jay Hosler, An Evolutionary Novelty: Optical Allusions by Todd H. Oakley (PDF)

E:EO 1(3).

I have previously been pleased to announce on Genomicron the release of the first two issues of Volume 1 of Evolution: Education and Outreach. I am equally pleased to point out that Issue 3 is now available free online.

As a special treat, I note that editors-in-chief Greg and Niles Eldredge mention Genomicron in their editorial.

Here are the contents of Vol 1, Issue 3

Editorial – Gregory Eldredge and Niles Eldredge

Some Thoughts on “Adaptive Peaks,” “Dobzhansky’s Dilemma”—and How to Think About Evolution – Niles Eldredge

The Concept of Co-option: Why Evolution Often Looks Miraculous – Deborah A. McLennan

Evolutionary Trends – Some Guy

Speciation and Bursts of Evolution – Chris Venditti and Mark Pagel