PerspectiveEvolution

Watching speciation in action

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Science  03 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6328, pp. 910-911
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam6411

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Summary

Charles Darwin closed his first edition of On the Origin of Species with the poetic words: “There is grandeur in this view of life,…whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved” (1). Today, scientists are using genetics to understand how species multiply, and ecological and behavioral knowledge to understand why they do so. However, many questions remain about the sources of genetic variation and how new phenotypes arise in response to environmental change. Recent research has revealed unexpected origins of genetic variation, providing crucial insights into phenotypic divergence and the evolutionary effects of rare events triggered by global climatic change.