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Duquesne University Power Center
1015 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15282
Charles Darwin, Evolution and Finches
Presented by: B. Rosemary Grant & Peter R. Grant
In the “Origin of Species” Charles Darwin established the scientific basis for understanding how evolution occurs by natural selection. To explain how species form he envisioned a three-step process: colonization, involving the expansion of a population into a new environment; divergence, when populations become adapted to novel environmental conditions through natural selection; and finally, the formation of a barrier to interbreeding between divergent lineages. He showed characteristic insight by suggesting that investigations of what we now call, “very young adaptive radiations” might provide windows through which we can view the processes involved. Since Darwin’s time insights from the fields of genetics, behavior and ecology have continued to illuminate how and why species evolve. In this talk we will discuss the progress that has been made in our understanding of speciation with special reference to the young radiation of Darwin’s Finches. We draw upon the results of a long-term field study of finch populations spanning several decades, combined with laboratory investigations of the molecular genetic basis of beak development.