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Science. 1997 Mar 28;275(5308):1934-7.

Evaluation of the Rate of Evolution in Natural Populations of Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

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D. N. Reznick, Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA. F. H. Shaw and R. G. Shaw, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA. F. H. Rodd, Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Natural populations of guppies were subjected to an episode of directional selection that mimicked natural processes. The resulting rate of evolution of age and size at maturity was similar to rates typically obtained for traits subjected to artificial selection in laboratory settings and up to seven orders of magnitude greater than rates inferred from the paleontological record. Male traits evolved more rapidly than female traits largely because males had more genetic variation upon which natural selection could act. These results are considered in light of the ongoing debate about the importance of natural selection versus other processes in the paleontological record of evolution.

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