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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2007 Nov-Dec;80(6):557-67. Epub 2007 Sep 6.

New directions for studying selection in nature: studies of performance and communities.

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Department of Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Program, University of Massachusetts, 221 Morrill Science Center, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA.


Natural and sexual selection are crucial factors in the evolutionary process, yet recent reviews show that researchers have focused narrowly on this topic, with the majority of research centered on the morphological traits of single species. However, in the past several years, several bodies of work have emerged that have examined both selection on performance capacity and selection in a community context, and our goal is to highlight these two growing areas and point toward future directions. Recent studies of selection on performance capacity point toward directional selection favoring high levels of performance, and we detected less evidence for selection favoring intermediate (i.e., stabilizing) or bimodal (i.e., disruptive) kinds of performance levels. Studies of selection in a community context, using the paradigm of indirect genetic effects, show significant community heritability and strong capacity for evolution to occur in a community context via the force of natural selection. For future directions, we argue that researchers should shift toward longer-term studies of selection on both individual species and communities, and we also encourage researchers to publish negative selection results for both performance and community studies to act as balancing influences on published positive selection results.

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