Macroevolution: Explanation, Interpretation, Evidence

Serrelli E, Gontier N, eds. (forthcoming). Macroevolution: Explanation, Interpretation and Evidence. Springer.
Serrelli E, Gontier N, eds. Macroevolution: Explanation, Interpretation and Evidence. Springer.


  • Provides a unique multidisciplinary approach to understand macroevolution
  • Presents state of the art scientific methodologies
  • Written by international experts from different fields

This book is divided in two parts, the first of which shows how, beyond paleontology and systematics, macroevolutionary theories apply key insights from ecology and biogeography, developmental biology, biophysics, molecular phylogenetics, and even the sociocultural sciences to explain evolution in deep time. In the second part, the phenomenon of macroevolution is examined with the help of real life-history case studies on the evolution of eukaryotic sex, the formation of anatomical form and body-plans, extinction and speciation events of marine invertebrates, hominin evolution and species conservation ethics.
The book brings together leading experts, who explain pivotal concepts such as Punctuated Equilibria, Stasis, Developmental Constraints, Adaptive Radiations, Habitat Tracking, Turnovers, (Mass) Extinctions, Species Sorting, Major Transitions, Trends, and Hierarchies – key premises that allow macroevolutionary epistemic frameworks to transcend microevolutionary theories that focus on genetic variation, selection, migration and fitness.
Along the way, the contributing authors review ongoing debates and current scientific challenges; detail new and fascinating scientific tools and techniques that allow us to cross the classic borders between disciplines; demonstrate how their theories make it possible to extend the Modern Synthesis; present guidelines on how the macroevolutionary field could be further developed; and provide a rich view of just how it was that life evolved across time and space. In short, this book is a must-read for active scholars and, because the technical aspects are fully explained, it is also accessible for non-specialists.
Understanding evolution requires a solid grasp of above-population phenomena. Species are real biological individuals, and abiotic factors impact the future course of evolution. Beyond observation, when the explanation of macroevolution is the goal, we need both evidence and theory that enable us to explain and interpret how life evolves at the grand scale.

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgements by the Editors

1. Emanuele Serrelli and Nathalie Gontier – Introduction: Macroevolutionary Issues and Approaches in Evolutionary Biology

Part 1: Macroevolutionary Explanations and Interpretations

2. Douglas J. Futuyma – Can Modern Evolutionary Theory Explain Macroevolution?

3. Folmer Bokma – Evolution as a Largely Autonomous Process

4. Emanuele Serrelli – Visualizing Macroevolution: From Adaptive Landscapes to Compositions of Multiple Spaces

5. Stanley S. Salthe – Toward a Natural Philosophy of Macroevolution

6. Ilya Tëmkin and Niles Eldredge – Networks and Hierarchies: Approaching Complexity in Evolutionary Theory

7. Nathalie Gontier – Uniting Micro- with Macroevolution into an Extended Synthesis: Reintegrating Life’s Natural History into Evolution Studies

Part 2: Evidencing Macroevolution with Case Studies

8. Lutz Becks and Yasaman Alavi – Using Microevolution to Explain the Macroevolutionary Observations for the Evolution of Sex

9. Alycia L. Stigall – Speciation: Expanding the Role of Biogeography and Niche Breadth in Macroevolutionary Theory

10. Alessandro Minelli – Morphological Misfits and the Architecture of Development

11. Bernard Wood and Mark Grabowski – Macroevolution In and Around the Hominin Clade

12. Elena Casetta and Jorge Marques da Silva – Facing the Big Sixth: From Prioritizing Species to Conserving Biodiversity

Look for it in the Publications page (with additional links):

Serrelli E, Gontier N, eds. (2015). Macroevolution: Explanation, Interpretation and Evidence. Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-15044-4 [DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-15045-1] [BOA] [Ac] [RG]

See the book webpage.

Interdisciplinary Workshop on Robustness – Engineering Science

Interdisciplinary Workshop on Robustness – Engineering Science

Rome, February 5th – 6th, 2015

Part of the Bio-Techno-Practice project

See program on


  • Gabriele Oliva – Robustness: A systems engineering point of view
  • Lorenzo Farina – Robustness through feedback: Benefits and limitations
  • Miles McLeod – Closing rhetorical gaps is healthy for everyone: The robustness of models and the aims of systems biology
  • Viola Schiaffonati – Model-based engineering
  • Alessandro Giuliani – News from the ‘twilight zone’: Protein molecules between the crystal and the fluid
  • Dino Accoto –  Robustness in robotics: Morphology, materials and intelligence
  • Marco Buzzoni – Robustness, mechanism, and the counterfactual use of finality in biology
  • Alfred Nordmann – Rules of thumb as paradigms of robust knowledge


Dino Accoto – University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, Biomedical Robotics and Biomicrosystems Laboratory
Marco Buzzoni – University of Macerata, Department of Human Sciences
Lorenzo Farina – University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Computer Control and Management Engineering
Alessandro Giuliani – Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome
Miles McLeod – TINT Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of the Social Science, Helsinki, Finland
Gabriele Oliva – University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, Complex Systems and Security Laboratory
Alfred Nordmann – Institut für Philosophie, Technische Universität Darmstadt
Viola Schiaffonati – Politecnico di Milano, Department of Electronic, Information and Bioengineering


Raffaella Campaner – University of Bologna, Department of Philosophy and Communication

Philosophical Steering Committee

Marta Bertolaso – University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, FAST, Faculty of Engineering
Sandra D. Mitchell – Pittsburgh University, Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Scientific Steering Committee

Flavio Keller – University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, Faculty of Medicine
Simonetta Filippi – University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, Faculty of Engineering

Local Organizing Committee

Emanuele Serrelli – University of Milano Bicocca
Anna Maria Dieli – University of Tor Vergata, Rome; IHPST, Paris


Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma
Via Álvaro del Portillo, 21
00128 Roma

With the participation of

“Istituto per la Storia del Pensiero Filosofico e Scientifico Moderno (ISPF)”, National Research Council, Naples
Department of Philosophy and Communication, University of Bologna
University of Macerata

With the contribution of

“Fondazione Cattolica Assicurazioni”