Evolutionary physiology

Natural and sexual selection are often presumed to act most directly on behavior (e.g., what an animal chooses to do when confronted by a predator), which is expressed within limits set by whole-organism performance abilities (e.g., how fast it can run) that are determined by subordinate traits (e.g., muscle fiber-type composition). A weakness of this conceptual and operational model is the absence of an explicit recognition of the place of life history traits.

Evolutionary physiology is the study of the biological evolution of physiological structures and processes; that is, the manner in which the functional characteristics of individuals in a population of organisms have responded to natural selection across multiple generations during the history of the population.[1] It is a sub-discipline of both physiology and evolutionary biology. Practitioners in the field come from a variety of backgrounds, including physiology, evolutionary biology, ecology, and genetics.

Accordingly, the range of phenotypes studied by evolutionary physiologists is broad, including life history, behavior, whole-organism performance,[2][3] functional morphology, biomechanics, anatomy, classical physiology, endocrinology, biochemistry, and molecular evolution. The field is closely related to comparative physiology and environmental physiology, and its findings are a major concern of evolutionary medicine. One definition that has been offered is "the study of the physiological basis of fitness, namely, correlated evolution (including constraints and trade-offs) of physiological form and function associated with the environment, diet, homeostasis, energy management, longevity, and mortality and life history characteristics".[4]

  1. ^ Garland, T. Jr.; P. A. Carter (1994). "Evolutionary physiology" (PDF). Annual Review of Physiology. 56: 579–621. doi:10.1146/annurev.ph.56.030194.003051. PMID 8010752.
  2. ^ Arnold, S. J. (1983). "Morphology, performance and fitness" (PDF). American Zoologist. 23 (2): 347–361. doi:10.1093/icb/23.2.347.
  3. ^ Careau, V. C.; T. Garland, Jr. (2012). "Performance, personality, and energetics: correlation, causation, and mechanism" (PDF). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 85 (6): 543–571. doi:10.1086/666970. hdl:10536/DRO/DU:30056093. PMID 23099454. S2CID 16499109.
  4. ^ Lovegrove, B. G. (2006). "The power of fitness in mammals: perceptions from the African slipstream". Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 79 (2): 224–236. doi:10.1086/499994. PMID 16555182. S2CID 24536395.

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