Thursday, April 11, 2013

Praise for our book "The Adaptive Landscape in Evolutionary Biology"

As you hopefully remember, last year Ryan Calsbeek at Dartmouth College and I published an edited volume entitled "The Adaptive Landscape in Evolutionary Biology" (Oxford University Press 2012). Although we have generally gotten positive feedback and responses when talking research colleagues at meetings, relatively few reviews have yet appeared, probably because it is a relatively recent publication. Here is one very flattering review, however, published on the blog "Nothing in biology makes sense".

I thank the blog author for his kind words, and have to cite some of the nice formulations on a very long and thorough review:

"Unlike a recent book addressing aspects of the modern synthesis, Evolution: The Extendend Synthesis (Pigliucci and Müller, 2010) which called for a revolution, Svensson and Calsbeek have assembled authors that explore the innovations and contributions that build upon the fundamental ideas of population genetics and seek to grow the field. Early in this book, Pigliucci asks about the utility of the Adaptive Landscape metaphors, even titling his chapter with the question, “what are they good for?” I think the rest of the book provides a more than sufficient answer to his question."


"Over the course of this semester, my colleagues and I read and discussed each of the chapters. Our group consisted of a diversity of backgrounds spanning evolution, ecology, and behavior. We included a range of experience from first and second year graduate students to postdocs as well as junior and senior faculty. While we read the book in the sequential order it was published in, each part could certainly be pulled out and read as a separately. Some of the chapters make cross references to each other but not enough that reading them independently would be impossible. While some chapters certainly provided more challenges to some, this forced our discussion to flesh out explanations that the text just didn’t have time to go into. I think that the first two parts might make particularly good set of readings to supplement an upper level Evolution or Population Genetics course."


"My recommendationThis is a book ideally suited for a graduate level seminar in any Biology department. While it may be good to read a few chapters on your own, the book benefits from an active discussion of the content. We took 14 weeks to go through the entire book, reading one chapter most weeks occasionally two (or three). This pace allowed everyone to casually complete the readings. Going slowly through the book also allowed us to digest the material and make connections among the chapters without getting too overwhelmed with new information each week. You can follow this link to see the schedule we followed. If you are not convinced about the utility of this book yet, below I highlight some of the excellent contributions contained within the different parts."

and finally:

"CONCLUSION: I would strongly encourage students of population genetics to pick up this excellent volume and spend some contemplative weeks reading through the chapters. Better yet, grab a group of your department colleagues and argue about the 80 years of interpretation of the Adaptive Landscape. I personally cannot wait to see where this excellent metaphor leads us."

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