Evolutionary Biology Mayrs Second Synthesis

The Princeton Conference in January 1947 showed that a consensus had been achieved among geneticists, paleontologists and systematists and that evolutionary biology as an independent biological discipline had been established (Mayr 1997g). As an active community architect, Mayr was at the center of activities for forming a Society for the Study of Evolution in 1946 and establishing its journal Evolution, for which he served as its founding editor (1947-1949; see pp. 238-240). He contributed enormously to the development of the new field of evolutionary biology during the following decades, in particular through his publications on variation and population thinking, species concepts, the ontological status of species, the dual nature of evolution (phyletic evolution [anagenesis] and speciation [cladogenesis]), the unity of the genotype, and accident versus design in evolution, as reviewed by Bock (1994a). Additional contributions concern discussions of Darwin and Darwinism and of many philosophical aspects of evolutionary biology like causality, teleology, essentialism, the advance of science and the autonomy of biology. His important papers on evolutionary biology have been reprinted in two volumes of essays (1976m, 1988e). Most of Mayr's work in evolutionary biology refers to species-level changes rather than macroevolution, although he also published some important work on this latter subject. He did not publish a textbook on evolution, although his books of 1963(b) and 1970(e) come close and he published many articles on general aspects of evolution and a modern exposition of evolution (2001f). "Most biologists would probably name Mayr as the emblematic, even iconic, figure of 20th century evolutionary biology. The centrality of his role is attributable both to the multiplicity of ways in which he participated in the creation of modern evolutionary biology and the effectiveness with which he played these parts" (Wilkins 2007). I summarize below first his general overviews of evolutionary biology or portions of it followed by a discussion of a series of particular topics which he dealt with in separate articles.

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