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The white-knight hypothesis, or does the environment limit innovations?


Wagner, Andreas (2017). The white-knight hypothesis, or does the environment limit innovations? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 32(2):131-140.

Abstract

Organisms often harbor latent traits that are byproducts of other adaptations. Such latent traits are not themselves adaptive but can become adaptive in the right environment. Here I discuss several examples of such traits. Their abundance suggests that environmental change rather than new mutations might often limit the origin of evolutionary adaptations and innovations. This is important, because environments can change much faster than new mutations arise. I introduce a conceptual model that distinguishes between mutation-limited and environment-limited trait origins and suggest how experiments could help discriminate between them. Wherever latent traits are plentiful, ecology rather than genetics might determine how fast new adaptations originate and thus how fast adaptive Darwinian evolution proceeds.

Abstract

Organisms often harbor latent traits that are byproducts of other adaptations. Such latent traits are not themselves adaptive but can become adaptive in the right environment. Here I discuss several examples of such traits. Their abundance suggests that environmental change rather than new mutations might often limit the origin of evolutionary adaptations and innovations. This is important, because environments can change much faster than new mutations arise. I introduce a conceptual model that distinguishes between mutation-limited and environment-limited trait origins and suggest how experiments could help discriminate between them. Wherever latent traits are plentiful, ecology rather than genetics might determine how fast new adaptations originate and thus how fast adaptive Darwinian evolution proceeds.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:03 Feb 2017 09:18
Last Modified:03 Feb 2017 09:18
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0169-5347
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2016.10.017
PubMed ID:27871674

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Content: Accepted Version
Filetype: PDF - Registered users only until 19 October 2017
Size: 698kB
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Embargo till: 2017-10-19

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