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Ecological genetics is the study of genetics on an ecological scale. While molecular genetics studies the structure and function of genes at a molecular level, ecological genetics (and the related field of population genetics) studies wild populations of organisms.
Studies are often done on insects and other organisms that have short generation times, and thus evolve at fast rates. More importantly, research in this field is of traits of ecological significance (e.g., flowering time, drought tolerance, sex ratio).
Although work on natural populations had been done previously, it is acknowledged that the field was founded by the Briton E.B. Ford in the early 20th century. Ecological Genetics is the title of his 1964 'magnum opus' on the subject. Other notable ecological geneticists would include Theodosius Dobzhansky's work on fruit flies. Ford's genetics school at Oxford in the 1960s is famous for studies, including Bernard Kettlewell's work on the peppered moth.
However, obtaining enough data on natural populations was difficult, as was obtaining research grants for long-term projects. As a result, funding was diverted towards molecular genetics. Improved understanding of molecular genetics however, allowed the development of improved biochemical techniques during the 1980s and 1990s which in turn allowed data on natural populations to be derived.
- Ford E.B. (1964). Ecological Genetics
- Cain A.J. and W.B. Provine (1992). Genes and ecology in history. In: R.J. Berry, T.J. Crawford and G.M. Hewitt (eds). Genes in Ecology. Blackwell Scientific: Oxford. (Provides a good historical background)
|Subfields of genetics|
|Classical genetics | Ecological genetics | Molecular genetics | Population genetics | Quantitative genetics|
|Related topics: Genomics | Reverse genetics | Geneticist|
|Basic topics in evolutionary biology||(edit)|
|Processes of evolution: evidence - macroevolution - microevolution - speciation|
|Mechanisms: selection - genetic drift - gene flow - mutation - phenotypic plasticity|
|Modes: anagenesis - catagenesis - cladogenesis|
|History: History of evolutionary thought - Charles Darwin - The Origin of Species - modern evolutionary synthesis|
|Subfields: population genetics - ecological genetics - human evolution - molecular evolution - phylogenetics - systematics - evo-devo|
|List of evolutionary biology topics | Timeline of evolution | Timeline of human evolution|
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