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FEATURE ARTICLE

Development Influences Evolution

A range of factors—including genetics and physics, location and timing— can either constrain an animal’s features or amplify changes

Katherine E. Willmore

2010-05WillmoreF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageEvolutionary developmental (or “evo-devo”) biology is the study of how developmental processes interact with selective forces to produce evolutionary change. In this context, development refers to the formation of physical traits and physiological systems, from conception onwards. A major focus of evo-devo is to determine how development is constrained or biased and to determine how these limits on development affect evolution. Although the study of development alone can’t provide a complete explanation, an understanding of development can reveal a set of rules that bias the direction of evolutionary change. These rules allow us to demystify the complexities of form that we see in nature.


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