Evolution, extinction, and everything

Michael.Chamberland 23274MJC at MSU.EDU
Fri Feb 3 12:56:00 CST 1995

Systematists attempt to ascertain the evolutionary history of taxa,
debate evolutionary trends, and discuss the impact and rate of mutation
and abiotic change on evolution, etc., etc.

Since evolutionary changes take place over long periods of time,
evolution cannot be directly observed, and conclusions regarding
evolution remain theoretical.

However, the impact of humans on the environment has, over the past
several hundred years, had a profound impact on the distibution,
survival, and adaptation of organisms.  This impact often seems more
immediate, more profound, and easier to quantify than evolutionary
changes which occured say, with the Pleistocene glaciations.

Since I'm largely immersed in studing the disciplines of systematics,
I am unaware of, and curious about, studies that are (or are not) being
done on the impact of humans on taxa, particularly in relation to those
factors which are also of importance to systematics  (ie. distribution,
genetic diversity, hybridization).  I am aware that there are monitoring
programs for rare and threatened species, as well as studies of ecological
impacts caused by human alterations of the environment.  However, I'm not
familiar with "subdisciplines" which attempt to merge these applied
environmental efforts with "classical" systematic concerns.

Any thoughts?

Michael Chamberland

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