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Am Nat. 2007 Jan;169(1):1-8.

Uncovering the biodiversity of genetic and reproductive systems: time for a more open approach. American Society of Naturalists E. O. Wilson Award winner address.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore, University of Lausanne, CH 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Important scientific findings frequently arise from serendipitous findings. Unfortunately, many scientists are not prepared to take advantage of unexpected results and to question established paradigms, and this prevents them from capitalizing on their good fortune. In this essay, I first explain how pure serendipity led us to discover unusual modes of reproduction such as clonal reproduction by males and a green-beard gene. Next, I argue that the reproductive systems of ants and other organisms are probably much more diverse than is generally appreciated. This leads me to advocate for a new "molecular naturalist" approach to reproductive systems and a more "naturalistic" approach in population and evolutionary genetics. Finally, I make two further points. The first is that our current funding and education systems tend to hinder originality and curiosity. The other is that the field of ecology and evolution, and more generally all of science, would benefit from a shift in values from scientific productivity to scientific creativity. A few suggestions are made to this effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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