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Evolution and evolvability: celebrating Darwin 200

By John F.Y. Brookfield


The concept of ‘evolvability’ is increasingly coming to dominate considerations of evolutionary change. There are, however, a number of different interpretations that have been put on the idea of evolvability, differing in the time scales over which the concept is applied. For some, evolvability characterizes the potential for future adaptive mutation and evolution. Others use evolvability to capture the nature of genetic variation as it exists in populations, particularly in terms of the genetic covariances between traits. In the latter use of the term, the applicability of the idea of evolvability as a measure of population's capacity to respond to natural selection rests on one, but not the only, view of the way in which we should envisage the process of natural selection. Perhaps the most potentially confusing aspects of the concept of evolvability are seen in the relationship between evolvability and robustness

Topics: Opinion Piece
Publisher: The Royal Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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