Classic Works in Evolutionary Biology—The List With Links
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For a complete explanation/introduction, see EVOLUTIONARY CLASSICS MAIN PAGE
This page maintained by Kurt Schwenk
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annotation initials key:
KS = Kurt Schwenk
CS = Carl Schlichting
Note 1: a name in parentheses after a citation indicates a faculty member who has a hard copy of the listed work she/he is willing to loan
Note 2: PDFs of many of the listed papers are being uploaded on a regular basis (it takes awhile) - keep checking back!
Baldwin, J. M. 1902. Development and Evolution. MacMillan, London. [VIEW/DOWNLOAD HERE]
Bonner, J. T. 1958. The Evolution of Development. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.
Bonner, J. T. 1988. The Evolution of Complexity by Means of Natural Selection. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton. (Schwenk)
Darwin, C. 1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. 1st ed. John Murray, London. [DARWIN'S WORKS ONLINE HERE]
Darwin, C. 1872. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. 6th ed. with additions and corrections. John Murray, London. [DARWIN'S WORKS ONLINE HERE]
Darwin, C. 1871. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Vols. 1 & 2. 1st ed. John Murray, London. [DARWIN'S WORKS ONLINE HERE]
Dawkins, R. 1976. The Selfish Gene. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. (Schwenk)
[phenotypes as contrivances of genes to replicate themselves (KS)]
de Beer, G. R. (editor).1938. Evolution. Essays on Aspects of Evolutionary Biology Presented to Professor E. S. Goodrich on His Birthday. Oxford/Clarendon Press, Oxford. (Schwenk)
de Beer, G. R. 1958. Embryos and Ancestors. 3rd ed. Oxford/Clarendon Press, Oxford. (Schwenk)
[1st edition published in 1940 (KS)]
Dobzhansky, T. 1937. Genetics and the Origin of Species. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. (Schwenk)
[+2nd and 3rd editions in 1941 and 1951, respectively (KS)]
Dobzhansky, T. 1970. Genetics of the Evolutionary Process. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. (Schwenk)
Endler, J. A. 1986. Natural Selection in the Wild. Mongraphs in Population Biology No. 21. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ. (Schwenk)
[in addition to technical material on measuring selection, etc., Endler has an excellent and thoughtful general/philosophical discussion of natural selection - a very good introduction to the concept (KS)]
Fisher, R. A. 1930. The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection. Clarendon Press, Oxford. FULL TEXT LINK HERE
Frazzetta, T. H. 1975. Complex Adaptations in Evolving Populations. Sinauer Assoc., Sunderland, MA. (Schwenk)
[a quirky and often overlooked little book on the evolution of 'complex' adaptations, character complexes, etc. (KS)]
Goldschmidt, R. 1940. The Material Basis of Evolution. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven. (Schwenk)
[ever wonder where the term "hopeful monster" came from? (KS)]
Gould, S. J. 1977. Ontogeny and Phylogeny. Belknap/Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge. (Schwenk)
[read this book for the first half - a fantastic history of developmental morphology - Haeckel, von Baer - those guys (KS)]
Grant, V. 1963. The Origin of Adaptations. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. (Schwenk)
Gregory, W. K. 1951. Evolution Emerging. A Survey of Changing Patterns From Primeval Life to Man. Vols. 1 & 2. MacMillan, New York. (Schwenk)
[The first volume is a history of life and was probably a bit dated even when it was published; the second volume is an amazing collection of figures of organisms, skulls, fossils, etc. Together they represent an amazing post-war treatise on biodiversity and the physical evidence for evolution (KS)]
Haldane, J. B. S. 1932. The Causes of Evolution. Longmans, Green and Co., London.
[Birth of quantitative genetics; appendix has summary of his papers on selection intensity, etc. (CS); reprinted 1990 by Princeton Univ. Press, which you can buy or read about HERE (KS)]
Hennig, W. 1966. Phylogenetic Systematics. Univ. of Illinois Press, Urbana. (Schwenk)
[translated by D. Dwight Davis and R. Zangerl; this book represents a revised and expanded version of Hennig’s Grundzüge einer Theorie der phylogenetischen Systematik (1950) and is therefore a new book rather than a simple translation. This is the bible of cladistics that when introduced in this country caused a paradigm shift in systematics (KS)]
Huxley, J. S. 1942. Evolution, the Modern Synthesis. Harper, New York. (Schwenk)
[new edition in 1963, Allen and Unwin, London, with new Introduction by Huxley (KS)]
Jepsen, G. L., G. G. Simpson and E. Mayr (editors). 1949. Genetics, Paleontology and Evolution. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ. (Schwenk)
[the short Foreward by Jepsen is a nice capsule summary of the aims and scope of the Synthesis (KS)]
Malthus, T. 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and Other Writers. Printed for J. Johnson, in St. Paul's Church-yard, London.
[not a work on evolution, but this famous essay was instrumental to Darwin in formulating the notion of the 'struggle for existence', which played a critical part in his theory of natural selection (KS)]
Mayr, E. 1942. Systematics and the Origin of Species. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. (Schwenk)
Mayr, E. 1963. Animal Species and Evolution. Belknap/Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA. (Schwenk)
[synthesis of the Synthesis from the man who gave us the Synthesis; explicates Mayr’s view on geographic/allopatric speciation, among other things (KS)]
Rensch, B. 1959. Evolution Above the Species Level. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. (Schwenk)
[originally published in 1954 in German; Rensch was a duel PhD in philosophy and biology; his philosophical bent is obvious in his writings. Interestingly, his student, Gerhard Roth - who works on evolutionary neuroanatomy of the brain and especially sensory systems in amphibians - is also a duel PhD in philosophy and biology, as is Schlichting's former student, Massimo Pigliucci...) (KS)]
Riedl, R. 1978. Order in Living Organisms. John Wiley and Sons, New York.
[fascinating, but rather opaque; read his 1977 paper (below) for the essentials; Günter Wagner at Yale was a Riedl student (KS)]
Schmalhausen, I. I. 1949. Factors of Evolution. The Theory of Stabilizing Selection. The Blakiston Co., Philadelphia. (Schwenk)
[reprinted 1986 by the Univ. of Chicago Press. Schmalhausen worked in isolation in Stalinist Russia and his accomplishments are all the more remarkable because of this (KS)]
Simpson, G. G. 1944. Tempo and Mode in Evolution. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. (Schwenk)
Simpson, G. G. 1949. The Meaning of Evolution. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven. (Schwenk)
[more of a popular book, but influential (KS)]
Simpson, G. G. 1953. The Major Features of Evolution. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. (Schwenk)
[a complete reworking of Tempo and Mode; virtually a new, more synthetic book. If you can read only one Simpson book, make it this one. The job of relating the population/genetic/microevolutionary phenomena of concern to most of the ‘synthesists’ to macroevolutionary/deep time patterns evident in the fossil record fell to Simpson. He makes a heroic effort here and was way ahead of his time. Originates the notion of the 'adaptive zone' and discusses the relation between adaptive zones and adaptive radiations at length (KS)]
Stebbins, G. L., Jr. 1950. Variation and Evolution in Plants. Columbia Univ. Press, New York.
[Stebbins was the one botanist ‘officially’ welcomed into the Synthesis fold (KS)]
[Interestingly, despite the emphasis of the synthesis on "population thinking", this book is largely focused at the macroevolutionary level. (CS)]
Thompson, D. W. 1942. On Growth and Form: A New Edition. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge. (Schwenk)
[reprinted unabridged by Dover Press, 1992. An amazing book dealing with allometry, morphological transformation and quantification, among other things. Introduces the application of Cartesian coordinates to examine 2-D shape change (KS)]
Waddington, C. H. 1957. The Strategy of the Genes. A Discussion of Some Aspects of Theoretical Biology. Macmillan, New York. (Schwenk)
[the dawning of the modern evo-devo movement; a critically important, but often neglected book - a 'must read' for people interested in development and phenotypic evolution. Explicates notion of 'canalization' among other important concepts (KS)]
White, M. J. D. 1978. Modes of Speciation. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco. (Schwenk)
[the view from cytogenetics, which at the time was very big (cytogenetics has been largely supplanted by molecular-genetic approaches (KS)]
Whyte, L. L. 1965. Internal Factors in Evolution. George Braziller, New York. (Schwenk)
[more philosophical than biological, this book, virtually ignored at the time, is becoming increasingly influential; deals with organismal ‘homeostasis’ and introduces the important concept of 'internal selection' (KS)]
Williams, G. C. 1966. Adaptation and Natural Selection. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ. (Schwenk)
Williams, G. C. 1992. Natual Selection. Domains, Levels, and Challenges. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. (Schwenk)
Wright, S. 1968. Evolution and the Genetics of Populations. Vol. 1. Genetics and Biometric Foundations. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.
- Wright, S. 1969. Evolution and the Genetics of Populations. Vol. 2. The Theory of Gene Frequencies. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.
- Wright, S. 1977. Evolution and the Genetics of Populations. Vol. 3. Experimental Results and Evolutionary Deductions. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.
- Wright, S. 1978. Evolution and the Genetics of Populations. Vol. 4. Variability Within and Among Natural Populations. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago. (Schwenk)
ARTICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS:
Alberch, P., S. J. Gould, G. F. Oster and D. B. Wake. 1979. Size and shape in ontogeny and phylogeny. Paleobiology 5:296-317.
[rejects Gould’s (1977) ‘clock model’ of heterochrony and formalizes the notion of ‘ontogenetic trajectories’; proposes a formal lexicon of heterochrony terms (KS)]
Antonovics, J. 1976. The nature of limits to natural selection. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 63:224-247.
[insufficient genetic variability and the swamping effects of gene flow are inadequate explanations of limits to natural selection. Comparison of evolutionary responses in different populations subjected to similar selective forces, comparison of rare and widespread species, and comparison of marginal and central populations are all neglected research areas that bear on the nature of limits to natural selection. Plant populations provide us with well-defined, operationally viable systems for addressing these comparisons. Several possible constraints on range extension of ecologically marginal populations are considered in detail. Selection on fitness components that are themselves negatively correlated will be ineffective: such negative correlations are to be expected in natural populations. Small size of marginal populations will reduce severely the probability of obtaining appropriate character combinations; it will increase the swamping effects of gene flow; and it may lead to inbreeding depression effects. Gene flow will have different effects depending on whether the genes concerned are effectively neutral, advantageous, or deleterious in the population into which they migrate. Gene flow will spread beneficial genes rapidly, but may retard divergence if density of marginal populations is low and swamping effects are high. Finally a population entering a new habitat is likely to meet new competitors and predators: the coevolutionary responses of the latter may counteract adaptive responses by the species undergoing range extension. All these factors are likely to interact in important ways in marginal populations. The study of limits to natural selection is likely to be a fruitful future research area, and one in which the detailed documentation of the systematist will provide invaluable baseline information (CS)]
Baldwin, J. M. 1896. A new factor in evolution. Amer. Nat. 30:441-451, 536-553.
[for some reason this has been called 'the Baldwin Effect'; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_effect for more information. Also note that Baldwin's paper was divided into two portions in Am. Nat., hence the two pdfs. The 'Baldwin Effect' remains contentious. For some modern invocations, see the papers below. For an especially lucid historical and conceptual discussion about the Baldwin Effect and its relationship to 'genetic assimilation' and 'genetic accommodation', see M. J. West-Eberhard's  book, Developmental Plasticity and Evolution [Oxford Univ. Press] (KS)]
- Ananth, M. 2005. Psychological altruism vs. biological altruism: narrowing the gap with the Baldwin Effect. Acta Biotheoretica 53:217-239.
- Crispo, E. 2007. The Baldwin Effect and genetic assimilation: revisiting two mechanisms of evolutionary change mediated by phenotypic plasticity. Evolution 61:2469-2479.
Bock, W. J., and G. von Wahlert. 1965. Adaptation and the form-function complex. Evolution 19:269-299.
[distinguishes the concepts of structure, function and biological role; extremely useful for those who think in terms of 'the target of selection' , i.e., what is actually being selected for? (also relevant to ideas about 'levels' of selection) (KS)]
Clausen, J., and W. M. Hiesey. 1958. Experimental studies on the nature of species. IV. Genetic structure of ecological races. Publication 615, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC.
Coddington, J. A. 1988. Cladistic tests of adaptational hypotheses. Cladistics 4:3-22.
[Perhaps not yet old enough to be a true 'classic', but given how fast systematics has progressed over the last 25 years, I think it's fair to include this; a seminal paper demonstrating the necessity of taking phylogenetic branching pattern into account when drawing conclusions about adaptation—in this example, the fact that 'messy' spider webs are actually derived compared to the esthetically pleasing orb webs, which were thought to be the derived state largely because of intuition and bias about how evolution 'should' proceed, i.e., from disordered to ordered, not the other way around! (KS)]
- Coyne, J. A. and H. A. Orr. 1997. “Patterns of speciation in Drosophila” revisited. Evolution 51:295-303.
Eldredge, N. and S. J. Gould. 1972. Punctuated equilibria: An alternative to phyletic gradualism. In T. J. M. Schopf (ed.), Models in Paleobiology, pp. 82-115. Freeman, Cooper and Company, San Francisco.
[see Gould and Eldredge, below. This was the first paper to establish the 'PE' model of phenotypic evolution, but it is more or less an abstract. The model is much better developed in the second paper (KS)]
Epling, C. and T. Dobzhansky. 1942. Genetics of natural populations. VI. Microgeographic races in Linanthus parryae. Genetics 27:317-332.
[populations seem to represent the action of genetic drift: fixation of one or the other of two alleles (CS)]
Felsenstein, J. 1985. Phylogenies and the comparative method. Amer. Nat. 125:1-15.
[this is the paper that really started the whole emphasis on 'comparative methods' in the sense of statistically controlling for the effects of evolutionary history/phylogeny (KS)]
Fisher, R. A. 1932. The evolutionary modification of genetic phenomena. Pp. 165-172. In: Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Genetics, Vol. 1. D. F. Jones (ed.).
Gottlieb, L. D. 1984. Genetics and morphological evolution in plants. American Naturalist 123:681-709.
[The genetic basis of differences in morphology within and between flowering plant species is reviewed in order to elucidate how many genetic changes are responsible for the evolution of new characters. Two broad morphological categories are evident. Differences in structure, shape, orientation, and presence versus absence are frequently discrete and appear to be governed by one or two genes. Differences in dimensions, weight, and number usually exhibit continuous variation and are influenced by numerous genes, though many of them probably act only indirectly via general effects at the whole organ or whole plant levels. Although it is difficult to specify the relative contributions of the two morphological categories during evolutionary divergence, it is clear that discrete character differences are more common in plants than in animals. I propose that their prevalence in plants is a direct consequence of the open, less integrative, and plastic patterns of plant morphogenesis which permit large changes in morphology on the basis of relatively few genetic changes. Morphological divergence among genera or families of flowering plants may reflect many fewer genetic changes than is the case for similar taxonomic levels of higher animals. Accurate estimates of the number of genes responsible for character divergence require knowledge of the ontogenetic and anatomical details of character development and these must be coordinated with genetic analyses. Until this knowledge becomes available, general conclusions about the number of genetic changes responsible for morphological diversity are premature (CS)]
Gould, S. J. and N. Eldredge. 1977. Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered. Paleobiology 3:115-151.
[A formalization and expansion of the concept introduced by Eldredge and Gould in 1972 as Gould gradually makes the concept his own. An attempt to find a rapprochement between microevolution/population-level phenomena and macroevolutionary patterns revealed in the fossil record. The concept remains contentious - for example, see Levinton and Simon critique below (KS)]
- Levinton, J. S., and C. M. Simon. 1980. A Critique of the punctuated equilibria model and implications for the detection of speciation in the fossil record. Systematic Zoology 29:130-142.
- [our own Chris Simon critiqued the punctuated equilibria model on several levels, including its restriction of speciation models to peripheral isolates, the confounding of species identification in the fossil record with 'stasis' and the assertion that species selection is random with respect to phenotypic trends (KS)]
Gould, S. J. and R. C. Lewontin. 1979. The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist programme. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. 205:581-598.
[Whatever you think of this paper, there is no denying that it was absolutely seminal; probably the most critiqued paper ever published in terms of its cross-disciplinary appeal - including an entire edited volume analyzing it from a rhetorical perspective! It marks the beginning of the modern era of constraint theory. Also, if you've wondered about the reference to the "Panglossian paradigm", this refers to Dr. Pangloss, a character in Voltaire's book 'Candide' (1759) who, even in the worst of circumstances, continues to explain why everything is just as it must be and that this is the most perfect of all worlds. It's a hilarious story and biting social commentary, with a great deal of relevance to biology and especially academics, generally (e.g., "what a great genius this Pococurante must be! Nothing can please him" and "but still, there must certainly be a pleasure in criticising everything, and in seeing faults where others think they see beauties." And for grad students regarding their advisors: "...but when I realized that he had doubts about everything, I figured I knew as much as himself, and had no need of a guide to learn ignorance." Finally, who can beat, "I have grown old in misery and disgrace, living with only one buttock..."?). But I digress... (KS)]
- Queller, D. C. 1995. The spaniels of St. Marx and the Panglossian paradox: A critique of a rhetorical programme. Quart. Rev. Biology 70:485-489.
- [one of many critiques published about G & L – an indication of its seminal influence (KS)]
- Cain, A. J. 1964. The perfection of animals. Pp. 36-63. In: Viewpoints in Biology. Carthy, J. D. and C. L. Duddington (eds.). Butterworths, London.
- [reprinted in Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 36:3-29 (1989); G & L are often criticized for creating a ‘straw man’ in the ‘adaptationist programme’, but this paper exemplifies some of the extreme adaptationist thinking of the time (KS)]
- Du Brul, E. L. and H. Sicher. 1954. The Adaptive Chin. American Lecture Series, Publication No. 180. Charles C Thomas, Springfield. (Schwenk)
- [G & L refer to the human chin as their “favorite example” of incorrect identification of an atomized character. This monograph provides the foundation for their views (the chin as an integrated field, not a ‘thing’). Gould cites it in his 1977 book, but G & L do not, despite referring to it implicitly (KS)]
Gould, S. J. and E. S. Vrba. 1982. Exaptation—a missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology 8:4-15.
[turns out it really wasn’t missing – it was just called ‘preadaptation’, which, for reasons they never fully justify, they eschew. They build a new vocabulary around the term ‘aptation’ to distinguish past vs. present function and selection. Although their terminology is sometimes applied, it is often done so self-consciously, i.e., a term such as "exaptation" is used in a sentence, but it is followed by the citation, as such: (sensu Gould and Verba, 1982) - a sign that the language hasn't really caught on and become part of our evolutionary vernacular (KS)]
Grant, P. R. and B. R. Grant. 2002. Unpredictable evolution in a 30-year study of Darwin’s Finches. Science 296:707-711.
[the one exception to the ‘too recent to qualify as a classic rule’ – the summation of 30 years work on the action of natural selection is simply too incredible and important not to include. The Grants demonstrate remarkable phenotypic lability in the beak related to climate change and its effect on food availability. Can 30 years of data be generalized to macroevolutionary patterns? —the big question! (KS)]
Haldane, J. B. S. 1924. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part I. Trans. Cambridge Phil. Soc. 23:19-41.
[In a series of 10 papers from 1924-1934, Haldane outlines the first mathematical models for many cases of evolution due to selection, an important concept in the modern evolutionary synthesis]
- Haldane, J. B. S. 1924. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part II. The influence of partial self-fertilisation, inbreeding, assortative mating and selective fertilisation on the composition of Mendelian populations and on natural selection. Proc. Cambridge Phil. Soc. 1:158-163.
- Haldane, J. B. S. 1926. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part III. Proc. Cambridge Phil. Soc. 23:363-372.
- Haldane, J. B. S. 1927. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part IV. Proc. Cambridge Phil. Soc. 23:607-615.
- Haldane, J. B. S. 1927. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part V. Selection and mutation. Proc. Cambridge Phil. Soc. 23:838-844.
- Haldane, J. B. S. 1930. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part VI. Isolation. Proc. Cambridge Phil. Soc. 26:220-230.
- Haldane, J. B. S. 1931. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part VII. Selection intensity as a function of mortality rate. Proc. Cambridge Phil. Soc. 27:131-136.
- Haldane, J. B. S. 1932. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part VIII. Metastable populations. Proc. Cambridge Phil. Soc. 26:220-230.
- Haldane, J. B. S. 1932. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part IX. Rapid selection. Proc. Cambridge Phil. Soc. 28:244-248.
- Haldane, J. B. S. 1934. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection. Part X. Some theorems in artificial selection. Genetics 19:412-429.
Haldane, J. B. S. 1932. The time of action of genes, and its bearing on some evolutionary problems. American Naturalist 66:5-24.
[points out the importance of knowledge about the age/stage of gene expression - gametophytes and gametes to zygotes, embryos and immature and mature organisms (CS)]
Haldane, J. B. S. 1932. Can evolution be explained in terms of known genetical facts? Pp. 185-189. In: Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Genetics, Vol. 1. D. F. Jones (ed.). FULL TEXT BOOK
Hamilton, W. D. 1964. The genetical evolution of social behavior. 1. J. Theor. Biol. 7:1-16.
Huxley, J. S. 1924. Constant differential growth-ratios and their significance. Nature 114:895-896.
[The first formalization of 'isometry' and 'allometry' (KS)]
Johannsen, W. 1911. The genotype conception of heredity. Amer. Nat. 45:129-159.
[This paper is the first to propose the concept of the phenotype - genotype dichotomy. Forceful argument for the "genotype-concept". Discusses Woltereck's work on reaction norms as consistent with "g-c", as the variations are phenotypic in nature. Describes pleiotropy. Dismisses idea of chromosomes being units of heredity (CS)]
Kimura, M. 1968. Evolutionary rate at the molecular level. Nature 217:624-626.
Lande, R. 1982. A quantitative genetic theory of life history evolution. Ecology 63:607-615.
[Dynamic models of quantitative (polygenic) characters are more generally applicable in the analysis of life history evolution than are static optimization methods or one and two locus genetic models. A dynamic theory of life history evolution is derived by synthesizing population demography with quantitative genetics. In a population under weak selection with a nearly stable age distribution, the relative fitness of individuals with a particular life history phenotype can be approximated as an average of age-specific relative fecundity and mortality rates, weighted respectively by the present productivity and future reproductive value of each age-class. An adaptive topography is constructed showing that, with phenotype- and age-specific fecundity and mortality rates constant in time, evolution of the mean life history maximizes the intrinsic rate of increase of a population. However, the rate and direction of evolution in response to selection are strongly influenced by genetic correlations among characters. Negative genetic correlations among major components of fitness are often obscured phenotypically by positive environmental correlations, but commonly constitute the ultimate constraint on life history evolution, as illustrated by artificial selection experiments. Methods are suggested for measuring selective forces and evolutionary constraints that effect life history characters in natural populations (CS)]
Lewontin, R. C. 1957. The adaptations of populations to varying environments. Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology 22:395-408.
[homeostasis of populations and individuals (CS)]
Lewontin, R. C. 1978. Adaptation. Scientific American 239:212-228.
[strangely enough, this article published in the popular press Scientific American is one of the best single treatments of this critical, yet slippery, concept (KS)]
Lewontin, R. C. and J. L. Hubby. 1966. A molecular approach to the study of genic heterozygosity in natural populations. II. Amount of variation and degree of heterozygosity in natural populations of Drosophia pseudoobscura. Genetics 54:595-609.
[a pretty boring and seemingly unremarkable paper to read now, but it marks the beginning of molecular population genetics (KS)]
Hubby, J. L., and R. C. Lewontin. 1966. A molecular approach to the study of genic heterozygosity in natural populations. I. The number of alleles at different loci in Drosophila pseudoobscura. Genetics 54:577-594.
Maynard Smith, J., R. Burian, S. Kauffman, P. Alberch, J. Campbell, B. Goodwin, R. Lande, D. Raup and L. Wolpert. 1985. Developmental constraints and evolution: a perspective from the Mountain Lake Conference on Development and Evolution. Quart. Rev. Biol. 60:265-287.
[an important and oft-cited work on evolutionary/developmental constraint marred by internal contradictions reflecting its having been ‘written by committee’ (KS)]
Mayr, E. 1949. Speciation and selection. Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc. 93:514-519.
Mayr, E. 1949. Speciation and systematics. Proc. Pp. 281-298, In: Jepsen, G. L., G. G. Simpson and E. Mayr (eds.), Genetics, Paleontology and Evolution. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ. (Schwenk)
Mayr, E. 1981. Biological classification: toward a synthesis of opposing methodologies. Science 214:510-516.
[written at the height of the 'classification wars', this paper makes the case for 'evolutionary taxonomy' - a hybrid approach that allows for cladistic methods in phylogeny reconstruction, but which emphasizes morphological disparity among taxa by allowing formal paraphyletic groups, e.g., a 'Reptilia' that excludes birds (KS)]
Northcutt, R. G., and C. Gans. 1983. The genesis of neural crest and epidermal placodes: a reinterpretation of vertebrate origins. Quarterly Review of Biology 58:1-28.
[okay, this one is really of most interest to vertebrate biologists, but it is a fantastic story about the origin of a novel tissue type/germ layer - the neural crest- and how it is almost single-handedly responsible for the craniate head - a true novelty and complex structure if ever there was one (KS)]
Raup, D. M. 1966. Geometric analysis of shell coiling: general problems. Journal of Paleontology 40:1178-1190.
[critically important paper for constraint theory—although ironically, Raup does not invoke constraint himself; Raup formalizes the notion of potential morphospace as a way of assessing observed biodiversity (KS)]
Roth, V. L. 1984. On homology. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 22:13-29.
[the best synthesis of the homology concept to that time; the starting point for many subsequent treatments (KS)]
Stebbins, G. L., Jr. 1949. Reality and efficacy of selection in plants. Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc. 93:501-513.
Turesson, G. 1922. The genotypical response of the plant species to the habitat. Hereditas 3:211-350.
[full text HERE]
Van Valen, L. 1973. A new evolutionary law. Evolutionary Theory 1:1-30.
[the ‘red queen hypothesis’- the idea that you must evolve just to stay in place ("for an evolutionary system, continuing development is needed just in order to maintain its fitness relative to the systems it is co-evolving with"); predator-prey arms races are a specific example of the red queen phenomenon. Also notable for being published in the journal Van Valen, himself, started - "dedicated to content over form" - basically a typed sheaf of papers Van Valen produced and distributed. It lasted many years and had a number of important papers published in it, including this one (KS)]
Vermeij, G. 1974. Adaptation, versatility, and evolution. Systematic Zoology 22:466-477.
Weldon, W. F. R. 1901/1902. A first study of natural selection in Clausilia laminata (Montagu). Biometrika 1:109-115.
Wright. S. 1932. The roles of mutation, inbreeding, crossbreeding and selection in evolution. Pp. 356-366. In: Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Genetics, Vol. 1. D. F. Jones (ed.).
[A terrific paper that introduces several fundamental concepts including Wright's famous 'adaptive landscape' metaphor; you can get open access HERE (KS)]
SOME USEFUL, NON-TRADITIONAL HISTORICAL TREATMENTS
Comment: The list above is reserved for actual scientific contributions in the history of post-Darwinian evolutionary biology—it does not contain secondary sources, i.e., books and papers primarily about the history and philosophy of evolution. There are many such contributions, particularly histories of Darwinism and neo-Darwinism (the Synthesis). Some of the latter have been written by historians and philosophers of biology, some by biologists—notably Ernst Mayr’s various historical treatments of the Synthesis. William Provine is another important author in this area who is much less dogmatic. However, we are presently in the midst of what might eventually be interpreted as a Kuhnian ‘paradigm shift’ in evolutionary biology, with the roles of development, ontogeny and organismal phenotype playing an increasingly important part in our views about evolutionary mechanisms and patterns. The modern evo-devo movement, though often thought of as ‘new’, is actually based on a very old tradition originating in the early 19th century, primarily from the German school of evolutionary and developmental morphology ('transcendental morphology', e.g., Haeckel, von Baer), carried into the 20th century by Baldwin, de Beer and Waddington, to name a few. There is ongoing debate about the importance of evo-devo in a general theory of evolution—one extreme views it as virtually irrelevant and that the genetic-population-selection principles of the neo-Darwinian Synthesis are both necessary and sufficient to account for phenotypic evolution—'macroevoluion' is simply the extrapolation of microevolutionary processes over deep time. The opposite extreme views selection as a minor player in phenotypic evolution and posits that developmental ‘rules of form’ have primacy. It is likely, as usual, that the truth lies somewhere in between. The particular books listed below ae notable because they deal with the history of modern evolutionary theory explicitly from the vantage point of evo-devo, and as such, provide novel perspectives and analyses. They also discuss historical figures usually ignored or even denigrated in ‘traditional’ histories. Beware historical revisionism in Science, as well as politics—it is up to us to sift through the various views to see which is consonant with the primary literature. Of course, this is not always easy to do—for example, not everyone can read through von Baer’s (1828) 300+ page Über Entwickelungsgeschichte der Thiere: Beobachtung und Reflexion (“On the Developmental History of Animals: Observations and Reflection”).
Amundson, R. 2005. The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought. Roots of Evo-Devo. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge (Schwenk)
[Ron Amundson is an extraordinarily thoughtful and insightful historian/philosopher of biology. His essays on adaptation and constraint are top notch. I expect this book is the same (KS)].
Richards, R. J. 1992. The Meaning of Evolution. The Morphological Construction and Ideological Reconstruction of Darwin’s Theory. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago. (Schwenk)
[Richards provides an excellent short history of the role and importance of the (mostly) German school of morphology and evolutionary morphology/development and its role in the formation of evolutionary theory—a perspective that is not easy to come by and which speaks to the modern evo-devo movement. An alternative to the Mayrian neoDarwinian, revisionist view of evolutionary history.]
Richards, R. J. 2002. The Romantic Conception of Life. Science and Philosphy in the Age of Goethe. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.