Web Exercise – The Best and Worst of Times for Evolutionary Biology

For the quiz this week read the review of John C. Avise published in BioScience (2003, vol. 53, pp. 247-255, pdf file found here).  Avise provides an excellent overview of the recent advances in evolutionary biology, emphasizing the impact of molecular approaches to the study of evolution.  It also considers some of the major challenges to the field of evolutionary biology.  After reading the article, be prepared to answer the following questions.

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1.(2) According to Avise, one of the reasons this the best of times for evolutionary biology is that advances in the field can improve the human condition.  Give one example of this.

2.(2) These same advances can also be dangerous.  Mention how.

3.(2) Avise predicts that a universal tree of life can be constructed in the next decade or two that links all of the species known to science.  Beyond the scientific benefit of such an achievement, what practical benefits might result from this?

4.(2) Based on surveys, what percentage of Americans believes in evolution as an entirely natural phenomenon?  What percentage of high school biology teachers entirely rejects the concept of evolution?

5.(2) Avise suggests the world's organized religions can encourage people to appreciate the natural world and to preserve its biodiversity.  What do you think of his idea?