Microevolution and Macroevolution: Introduction


Microevolution and macroevolution are terms for describing biological patterns and processes observed at short and long time scales, respectively. A deeper question is whether different biological processes account for microevolutionary and macroevolutionary change.

Keywords: biodiversity; natural selection; palaeontology; speciation; systematics

Figure 1.

The two types of evolutionary changes, anagenesis and cladogenesis, may be either gradual (left) or abrupt (right) in each case.

Figure 2.

Domesticated maize (bottom) and its wild ancestor teosinte (top) differ in many respects, including whole‐plant morphology (left) and how seeds and fruits are clustered (right).


Further Reading

Erwin DH (2000) Macroevolution is more than repeated rounds of microevolution. Evolution and Development 2(2): 78–84.

Kellogg E (1997) Plant evolution: the dominance of maize. Current Biology 7(7): 411–413.

McLaren A (1999) Too late for the midwife toad: stress, variability and Hsp90. Trends in Genetics 15(5): 169–171.

Ridley M (1997) Evolution. New York: Oxford University Press.

Stanley SM (1998) Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, 2nd edition. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, MD.

Thompson JN (1998) Rapid evolution as an ecological process. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 13(8): 329–332.

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Callahan, Hilary S(May 2002) Microevolution and Macroevolution: Introduction. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001717]