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Trends Ecol Evol. 2013 Oct;28(10):584-91. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2013.06.009. Epub 2013 Jul 20.

Unifying and generalizing the two strands of evo-devo.

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Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK. Electronic address:


The emergence of evo-devo has had profound effects on how we study evolution. However, evo-devo research has tended to involve two general approaches, one being mechanistic and typological with a focus on simple, bimodal phenotypes, and the other being quantitative and focusing on multidimensional phenotypes without an understanding of underlying genetic mechanisms. Here, we suggest that, given recent technological advances in genomics, molecular biology, and morphometrics, evo-devo is poised for a reconciliation through which the field will realize far greater explanatory potential with respect to the patterns and processes that underlie adaptive phenotypic divergence. With this in mind, we review the recent literature and put forward a generalized evo-devo approach that is suitable for studies of quantitative traits in a range of taxa.

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