Evolutionary physiology represents an explicit fusion of two complementary approaches: evolution and physiology. Stimulated by four major intellectual and methodological developments (explicit consideration of diverse evolutionary mechanisms, phylogenetic approaches, incorporation of the perspectives and tools of evolutionary genetics and selection studies, and generalization of molecular techniques to exotic organisms), this field achieved prominence during the past decade. It addresses three major questions regarding physiological evolution: () What are the historical, ecological, and phylogenetic patterns of physiological evolution? () How important are and were each of the known evolutionary processes (natural selection, sexual selection, drift, constraint, genetic coupling/hitchhiking, and others) in engendering or limiting physiological evolution? and () How do the genotype, phenotype, physiological performance, and fitness interact in influencing one another's future values? To answer these questions, evolutionary physiology examines extant and historical variation and diversity, standing genetic and phenotypic variability in populations, and past and ongoing natural selection in the wild. Also, it manipulates genotypes, phenotypes, and environments of evolving populations in the laboratory and field. Thus, evolutionary physiology represents the infusion of paradigms, techniques, and approaches of evolutionary biology, genetics, and systematics into physiology. The reciprocal infusion of physiological approaches into evolutionary biology and systematics can likewise have great value and is a future goal.

…each level [of biological integration] offers unique problems and insights, and….each level finds its explanations of mechanism in the levels below, and its significance in the levels above. George A. Bartholomew (7, p. 8)


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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