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Oxford University Press
11 March 2021
What does it mean to say that mutation is random? How does mutation influence evolution? Are mutations merely the raw material for selection to shape adaptations?

The author draws on a detailed knowledge of mutational mechanisms to argue that the randomness doctrine is best understood, not as a fact-based conclusion, but as the premise of a neo-Darwinian research program focused on selection. The successes of this research program created a blind spot - in mathematical models and verbal theories of causation - that has stymied efforts to re-think the role of variation. However, recent theoretical and empirical work shows that mutational biases can and do influence the course of evolution, including adaptive evolution, through a first come, first served mechanism.

This thought-provoking book cuts through the conceptual tangle at the intersection of mutation, randomness, and evolution, offering a fresh, far-reaching, and testable view of the role of variation as a dispositional evolutionary factor. The arguments will be accessible to philosophers and historians with a serious interest in evolution, as well as to researchers and advanced students of evolution focused on molecules, microbes, evo-devo, and population genetics.
By:   Arlin Stoltzfus (Fellow Fellow Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research Rockville Maryland USA)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 253mm,  Width: 193mm,  Spine: 19mm
Weight:   790g
ISBN:   9780198844457
ISBN 10:   019884445X
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   11 March 2021
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Arlin Stoltzfus is a Fellow of the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, and a Research Biologist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA . He is an evolutionary biologist who uses computer-based approaches to study evolution at the molecular level. His primary interest has been to develop and evaluate theories about evolutionary factors other than natural selection. He and his coworkers proposed the theory of Constructive Neutral Evolution, and showed theoretically that biases in the introduction of variation may impose biases on evolution without requiring neutrality.

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