How will life on Earth and the ecosystems that support it adapt to climate change? Which species will go extinct – or evolve into something new? How will microbes develop further resistance to antibiotics?
These kinds of questions, which are of fundamental importance to our way of life, are all a focus for researchers who study evolution and will prove increasingly important as the planet heats up.
But finding the answers is not the only challenge facing evolutionary biology. Charles Darwin’s theories might be over 150 years old but major questions about how evolution works are far from settled.
Evolutionary biology is now undergoing one of the most intense debates it has had for more than a generation. And how this debate plays out could have a significant impact on the future of this scientific field.
Some biologists and philosophers claim that evolutionary biology needs reform, arguing that traditional explanations for how organisms change through time that scientists have assumed since the 1930s are holding back the assimilation of novel findings
Contemporary evolutionary biology, a vocal minority argue, is incomplete. The dominant and traditional view of the field is too preoccupied with how the genes in a population change over time. This neglects, these critics argue, how individual organisms shape their environments and adjust themselves…