Tag Archives: macroevolution

International Meeting “Evolutionary Theory: A Hierarchical Perspective”

Presentation of:

Eldredge N, Pievani T, Serrelli E, Tëmkin I, eds. (2016). Evolutionary Theory: A Hierarchical Perspective. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

With Telmo Pievani, Ilya Tëmkin, Warren D. Allmon, Gregory Cooper, T. Ryan Gregory, Stefan Linquist, William Miller III, Mihaela Pavlicev, Andrea Parravicini, Francesco Suman, Alejandro Fabregas Tejeda.

Organized by: The Hierarchy Group

Venues: National Academy of Sciences and NOVA Northern Virginia Community College

See event program on Academia.

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.

OUT NOW!!!

  • 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.

Visualizing Macroevolution

fig03b_simpson_modesThe adaptive landscape is an important diagrammatic concept that was conceived in population genetics. During the Modern Synthesis, in the first half of the Twentieth Century, the landscape imagery was used to represent evolution on a large scale, aiding in the construction of a common language for a new evolutionary biology. Not only historic adaptive landscapes by Dobzhansky, Simpson, and others are a record of how macroevolution was thought of in those decades; they stimulate reflection on ‘combination spaces’ that underlie them. In fact, any landscape diagram is the three-dimensional transposition of a multidimensional space of combinations of genes, morphological traits, or other kinds of variables. This is an important and enduring general point of awareness: the diagram displays some aspects of the considered space while hiding others, exposing the author and the user to incomplete understanding and to conflating different spaces. Today, macroevolution is studied as a multifarious exploration of spaces of possibilities of all different sorts, interconnected in complex ways: genotype spaces, molecular spaces, morphospaces, geographical spaces, ecological spaces, genealogical spaces. Actual macroevolutionary stories and outcomes are a subset of what is, in principle, possible in all of these spaces, composed by possible combinations—of genes, nucleotides, morphological traits, environmental variables. Visualizations of macroevolution are a challenge of showing both distinction and correlation between spaces of possibilities.

Keywords: adaptation, speciation, macroevolution, visualization


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

Serrelli E (2015). Visualizing macroevolution: from adaptive landscapes to compositions of multiple spaces. In Serrelli E, Gontier N, eds., Macroevolution: explanation, interpretation and evidence. Interdisciplinary Evolution Research series, Springer, pp. 113-162. ISBN 978-3-319-15044-4 [DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-15045-1_4] [BOA] [Ac] [RG]

Interviews at the Lisbon Summer School on Evolution

These interviews were conducted at the 2013 International Summer School on Evolution which was organized by the Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab in collaboration with Ciência Viva, and held at Ciência Viva’s Pavilion of Knowledge in Lisbon, Portugal.

In the following first video I was interviewed on Philosophy of Biology, the Extended Synthesis, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Niche Construction, Macroevolution, Symbiogenesis and the Gaia Hypothesis and Niche Construction.

In the second video the School teachers were asked to give their definition of evolution: these were Bruce Lieberman, Folmer Bokma, Michael Arnold, Luis Villarreal, Frietson Galis, Ilya Tëmkin, Mónica Tamariz, Marion Blute, Fiona Jordan, Michael Ruse, Derek Turner, Frédéric Bouchard, Emanuele Serrelli and Nathalie Gontier. The AppEEL You Tube channel features full interviews with these and other scholars.

See the post on my and Nathalie’s course: Modeling sociocultural evolution.

More info can be found at:

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Sponsored by:

  • John Templeton Foundation
  • Ciência Viva Ciência Viva Knowledge Pavilion
  • Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon
  • Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon
  • University of Lisbon

How macro-evolutionary studies call for an extended synthesis

Emanuele Serrelli co-organizes with Nathalie Gontier and moderates the session “How macro-evolutionary studies call for an extended synthesis” at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, 14-18 February. The session aims to provide an overall evaluation of the scientific importance of macroevolutionary studies, accessible to a large scientific community. It includes a series of international experts, coming from different disciplinary backgrounds (history and philosophy of science, molecular biology and paleontology), allowing for a multi-disciplinary account of macroevolution. It focuses on how macroevolution is defined, proven, studied methodologically, and how their research complements and extends the tenets of the Modern Synthesis.

AAAS SESSION ON HOW MACROEVOLUTIONARY STUDIES CALL FOR AN EXTENDED SYNTHESIS

Organized by Nathalie Gontier and Emanuele Serrelli and Moderated by Emanuele Serrelli

When Eldredge and Gould formulated punctuated equilibria theory, they put several macroevolutionary phenomena on the agenda that were not addressed by the early population geneticists and the founders of the Modern Synthesis. Their theory provides alternative scientific interpretations for the mode and tempo of evolution. Occurring gaps in the fossil record, or the lack of evidence for the existence of intermediate species, are understood as real. And some (living) fossils don’t appear to undergo any significant evolutionary change for millions of years, which necessitates the study of stasis. Acknowledging that evolution can occur faster or slower than predicted by Neodarwinians has consequences for how we define species, and what the levels of evolution are. Macroevolutionary studies provide different species concepts, and argue that evolution can occur at levels higher than the pheno- or genotype. Today, multiple scholars investigate the causes of evolutionary stasis as well as punctuations, macroevolutionary trends, and how evolution occurs at different hierarchies. In recent years, evidence for macroevolution is also provided from within the field of molecular biology, and the pattern of punceq has been proven to be present in neontological and even sociocultural evolutionary phenomena. The session will examine how macroevolutionary studies call for an extension of the Modern Synthesis, and which methodologies and techniques enable the study of macroevolutionary events.

  1. STEPHEN GOULD’S HIERARCHICAL ALTERNATIVE TO NEODARWINISM: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE, David Sepkoski, University of North Carolina Wilmington
    THE EVOLUTION OF EVOLUTION: CHANGING DYNAMICS IN MACROEVOLUTION, Douglas H. Erwin, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
  2. MACROEVOLUTION: ON THE BIRTH, DEATH, AND PERSISTENCE OF SPECIES, Bruce Lieberman, Department of Geology and Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas
  3. CONTINGENCY AND THE EXPLANATION OF MACROEVOLUTIONARY TRENDS, Derek Turner, Department of Philosophy, Connecticut College
  4. COMPLEXITY AND LIMITS TO CHANGE, Folmer Bokma, IceLab and Department for Ecology & Environmental Science, Umeå University, Sweden
  5. PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIA: A UNIVERSAL PATTERN IN LIFE AND CULTURE, Nathalie Gontier & Emanuele Serrelli, Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab, Centre for Philosophy of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal. See Punctuated equilibria: a universal pattern in life and culture.

ABSTRACTS:

STEPHEN GOULD’S HIERARCHICAL ALTERNATIVE TO NEODARWINISM: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
David Sepkoski, University of North Carolina Wilmington
This paper will examine the historical significance of Stephen Jay Gould’s hierarchical “expansion” of Darwinism, focusing on the development of these ideas during the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of a larger program to establish “paleobiology” as an autonomous subdiscipline of evolutionary biology. The talk will explore the success of Gould’s program, and the extent to which paleobiology has become oriented around questions of macroevolutionary hierarchy as a result.

THE EVOLUTION OF EVOLUTION: CHANGING DYNAMICS IN MACROEVOLUTION
Douglas H. Erwin Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Most conceptions of macroevolution have involved a process that does not vary over time, with differences in the origination of new clades, or higher taxa controlled by ecology. Recent insights from evo-devo suggest a need to revisit this view and explore the non-uniformitarian aspects of macroevolution.

MACROEVOLUTION: ON THE BIRTH, DEATH, AND PERSISTENCE OF SPECIES
Bruce Lieberman Department of Geology and Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas
My talk will emphasize using the fossil record to study macroevolution in deep time. I will focus on what causes groups of species to radiate and diversity and what causes individual species to change, persist, or go extinct. Further, I will discuss how integrating data from phylogenetics, morphometrics, biogeography, and Geographic Information Systems can be used to tease apart how biotic and abiotic factors interact to cause large-scale evolution.

CONTINGENCY AND THE EXPLANATION OF MACROEVOLUTIONARY TRENDS
Derek Turner
Department of Philosophy, Connecticut College
Once scientists identify a macroevolutionary trend, they typically ask whether it is passive and generated by a random walk, or driven and generated by a directional bias in the state space. My talk will explore the connection between the passive/driven distinction and questions about the contingency of evolutionary history. I will suggest that the historical processes that generate passive trends exhibit greater contingency, whereas those that generate driven trends exhibit less contingency.

COMPLEXITY AND LIMITS TO CHANGE
Folmer Bokma
IceLab and Department for Ecology & Environmental Science, Umeå University, Sweden
Biological organisms are constantly under selection to improve the efficiency with which they function, and a common way to achieve this is via improved organization of its body, that is, complexity. This complexity, however, may make it harder for populations and species to adapt to a changing environment, and it might explain stasis. In my talk I ask whether this is the reason most species go extinct, and to what extent the same principle applies to human organizations.

PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIA: A UNIVERSAL PATTERN IN LIFE AND CULTURE
Nathalie Gontier & Emanuele Serrelli
Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab, Centre for Philosophy of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Punctuated equilibria theory describes a pattern of evolution: long periods of stasis are intermitted by short periods of rapid change. This pattern, first observed in the fossil record, appears to be universal. It has been detected in extant species on a molecular level, in the cultural dispersal of artifacts, and in the historical dispersal of certain language families. We will investigate which mechanisms underlie the pattern of punctuated equilibria in both biological and cultural evolution.

The session, organized with Nathalie Gontier, aims to provide an overall evaluation of the scientific importance of macroevolutionary studies, accessible to a large scientific community. It includes a series of international experts, coming from different disciplinary backgrounds (history and philosophy of science, molecular biology and paleontology), allowing for a multi-disciplinary account of macroevolution. It focuses on how macroevolution is defined, proven, studied methodologically, and how their research complements and extends the tenets of the Modern Synthesis.

Hierarchy Theory in Salt Lake City

In 2010 Emanuele Serrelli co-organized the session “Hierarchy Theory of Evolution” inviting Niles Eldredge and 10 other scholars on Hierarchy Theory at the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology Sunday, July 10, 2011 ‐ Friday, July 15, 2011, University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah United States. Hierarchy Theory assumes that the evolutionary disciplines have an ontological basis for their existence, i.e. systems with peculiar spatiotemporal dimensions, origins, histories, demises, and internal dynamics leading to stability and change through time. The theory is developing around Eldredge’s recognition of at least two main distinct evolutionary hierarchies – the genealogical and the ecological – and around a general vision of evolution as a process of interactions at various scales. E.g., macro-evolutionary patterns are explained by a “sloshing bucket” model, where ecological events reverberate in the evolutionary hierarchy.

MORNING SESSION 1:

  • BROOKS, Dan – Metaphors for the Extended Synthesis: Something Old, Something New.
  • CAIANIELLO, Silvia – Modularity and Hierarchy Theory.
  • CAPORAEL, Linnda – Grounding Human Social Cognition in Hierarchical Group Structure.

MORNING SESSION 2:

  • DIETL, Gregory – Toward a Unified Ecology in Macroevolution.
  • ELDREDGE, Niles – A Matter of Individuality: Hierarchy Theory at the Dawn of Evolutionary Biology.
  • MILLER, William – Macroevolutionary Consonance and expansion of the Modern Synthesis.

AFTERNOON SESSION:

See full session abstracts on Academia.