AskDefine | Define microevolution

Dictionary Definition

microevolution n : evolution resulting from small specific genetic changes that can lead to a new subspecies

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. small-scale changes in the history of life, such as changes in allele frequencies in a population (over a few generations); also known as change at or below the species level.
Includes corruptions, deletions and variations in genetic information but not the creation of new data.

Usage notes

The term microevolution was introduced to distinguish small-scale patterns of evolution from extinction and large-scale factors, which are termed macroevolution.

Extensive Definition

Microevolution is the occurrence of small-scale changes in allele frequencies in a population, over a few generations, also known as change at or below the species level .
These changes may be due to several processes: mutation, natural selection, gene flow and genetic drift.
Population genetics is the branch of biology that provides the mathematical structure for the study of the process of microevolution. Ecological genetics concerns itself with observing microevolution in the wild. Typically, observable instances of evolution are examples of microevolution; for example, bacterial strains that have antibiotic resistance.
Microevolution can be contrasted with macroevolution, which is the occurrence of large-scale changes in gene frequencies in a population over a geological time period (i.e. consisting of extended microevolution). The difference is largely one of approach. Microevolution is reductionist, but macroevolution is holistic. Each approach offers different insights into the evolution process.

Origin of the term

Russian Entomologist Yuri Filipchenko (or Philipchenko, depending on the transliteration) first coined the terms "macroevolution" and "microevolution" in 1927 in his German language work, "Variabilität und Variation". The term was brought into English-speaking by Theodosius Dobzhansky in his book Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937)

See also


microevolution in Asturian: Microevolución
microevolution in Catalan: Microevolució
microevolution in Czech: Mikroevoluce
microevolution in German: Mikroevolution
microevolution in Spanish: Microevolución
microevolution in French: Microévolution
microevolution in Italian: Microevoluzione
microevolution in Polish: Mikroewolucja
microevolution in Portuguese: Microevolução
microevolution in Romanian: Microevoluţie
microevolution in Swedish: Mikroevolution
microevolution in Chinese: 微演化
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