Outline of evolution

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to evolution:

A diagram showing the relationships between various groups of organisms

Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological organisms over generations due to natural selection, mutation, gene flow, and genetic drift. Also known as descent with modification. Over time these evolutionary processes lead to formation of new species (speciation), changes within lineages (anagenesis), and loss of species (extinction). "Evolution" is also another name for evolutionary biology, the subfield of biology concerned with studying evolutionary processes that produced the diversity of life on Earth.

Fundamentals about evolution


Basic principles

  • Macroevolution  Evolution on a scale at or above the level of species
    • Speciation  Evolutionary process by which populations evolve to become distinct species
      • Natural speciation
      • Artificial speciation
        • Animal husbandry  Management, selective breeding, and care of farm animals by humans
        • Plant breeding  Art and science of changing the traits of plants in order to produce desired characteristics
        • Genetic engineering  Manipulation of an organism's genome
      • Hybrid speciation  Form of speciation involving hybridization between two different species
    • Despeciation  Loss of a unique species of animal due to its combining with another previously distinct species
    • Anagenesis  Gradual evolutionary change in a species without splitting
    • Extinction  Termination of a taxon by the death of the last member
  • Microevolution  Change in allele frequencies that occurs over time within a population
    • Artificial selection  Breeding used to develop desired characteristics
    • Natural selection  Mechanism of evolution by differential survival and reproduction of individuals
      • Sexual selection  Mode of natural selection involving the choosing of and competition for mates
    • Mutation  Alteration in the nucleotide sequence of a genome
    • Gene flow  Transfer of genetic variation from one population to another
    • Genetic drift  Concept in genetics



Evolutionary theory and modelling

See also Basic principles (above)

Population genetics

Evolutionary phenomena


  • Emergent evolution  Evolutionary biology
  • Epic of evolution  Evolutionary narrative that blends views
  • Evolution window  Narrow band of mutation step size that is conducive to significant evolutionary progress
  • Evolutionary dynamics  Study of mathematical principles in evolutionary biology
  • Evolutionary game theory  Application of game theory to evolving populations in biology
  • Evolutionary graph theory  Approach to studying how topology affects evolution of a population
  • Evolutionary invasion analysis  Mathematical modeling of asexual reproduction
  • Largest-scale trends in evolution  Limits of increased complexity over time

Taxonomy, systematics, and phylogeny


Basic concepts of phylogenetics

  • Phylogenetic tree  Branching diagram of evolutionary relationships between organisms
  • Phylogenetic network  Graph used to visualize evolutionary relationships, including reticulation events
  • Long branch attraction  Systematic error in phylogenetics
  • Clade  Group of a common ancestor and all descendants
  • Grade  Non-monophyletic grouping of organisms united by morphological or physiological characteristics
  • Ghost lineage  Phylogenetic lineage that is inferred to exist but has no fossil record

Inference methods

Current topics

  • PhyloCode, also known as International Code of Phylogenetic Nomenclature
  • DNA barcoding  Method of species identification using a short section of DNA
  • Molecular phylogenetics  Branch of phylogeny that analyzes genetic, hereditary molecular differences
  • Phylogenetic comparative methods  Use of information on the historical relationships of lineages to test evolutionary hypotheses
  • Phylogenetic network  Graph used to visualize evolutionary relationships, including reticulation events
  • Phylogenetic niche conservatism  Tendency of lineage to retain ancestral traits
  • List of phylogenetics software  Compilation of software used to produce phylogenetic trees
  • Phylogenomics  Intersection of the fields of evolution and genomics
  • Phylogeography  Field of study
  • DNA phylogeny

Group Traits

Group Types

  • Monophyly  Property of a group of including all taxa descendant from a common ancestral species
  • Paraphyly  Type of taxonomic group
  • Polyphyly  Property of a group not united by common ancestry

Evolution of biodiversity

Origin and evolutionary history of life

Evolution of tetrapods

Evolution of other animals

Evolution of plants

  • Evolution of plants  The origin and diversification of plants through geologic time
    • Evolutionary anachronism  Attributes of living species that arose due to coevolution with other now-extinct species
    • Plant evolution  Subset of evolutionary phenomena that concern plants
    • Plant evolutionary developmental biology  Study of developmental programs and patterns in plants from an evolutionary perspective
    • Timeline of plant evolution  Chronological outline of major events in the development of plants

Evolution of other taxa

Evolution of cells, organs, and systems

Evolution of molecules and genes

Evolution of behaviour

Evolution of other processes

Applications in other disciplines

Evolutionary issues

Controversy about evolution

Religious and philosophical views of evolution

Influence of evolutionary theory

Publications and organizations concerning evolution



  • Evolution  Monthly journal in the science of evolutionary biology
  • Evolutionary Anthropology  Bimonthly review journal
  • Evolutionary Bioinformatics  Peer-reviewed scientific journal focusing on computational biology in the study of evolution
  • Evolutionary Psychology  Peer-reviewed open access academic journal
  • Journal of Evolutionary Biology  Bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal
  • Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research  Quarterly, peer reviewed, scientific journal
  • Trends in Ecology & Evolution (TREE)  Series of journals that publish review articles in a range of areas of biology and chemistry


  • European Society for Evolutionary Biology  Organisation to support the study of organic evolution
  • Society for the Study of Evolution  Professional organization of evolutionary biologists
  • Evolutionary psychology research groups and centers
  • I. M. Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry  Research facility in Saint Petersburg, Russia
  • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology  Research institute based in Leipzig, Germany
  • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology  Research institute located in Plön, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.
  • National Evolutionary Synthesis Center  Scientific research center in Durham, North Carolina
  • Systematic and Evolutionary Biogeography Association
  • Evolutionary Informatics Lab

Evolution scholars and researchers

  • List of evolutionary psychologists
  • List of members of the National Academy of Sciences (Evolutionary biology)

Prominent evolutionary biologists

See also

  • Outline of biology  Outline of subdisciplines within biology
    • Outline of genetics  Hierarchical outline list of articles related to genetics
  • Biogeography  Study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time
  • Conscious evolution  Hypothetical ability of the human species to choose what they will become
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology  Interdisciplinary field of study
  • Effective evolutionary time  Hypothesis offering a causal explanation of diversity gradients
  • Evolutionary acquisition of neural topologies  Method that evolves both the topology and weights of artificial neural networks
  • Evolutionary anachronism  Attributes of living species that arose due to coevolution with other now-extinct species
  • Evolutionary approaches to depression
  • Evolutionary argument against naturalism  Philosophical argument
  • Evolutionary art  Art generated by an iterated process
    • Evolutionary music  Audio counterpart to evolutionary art
  • Evolutionary baggage  Currently disadvantageous part of the genome
  • Evolutionary Humanism
  • Evolutionary informatics
  • Evolutionary landscape  Metaphor used to visualize the processes of evolution
  • Evolutionary Principle  The adaptation of species
  • Evolutionary Synthetic Biology
  • Extinction  Termination of a taxon by the death of the last member
    • Extinction event  Widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity on Earth
    • Human extinction  Hypothetical end of the human species
    • Local extinction  The condition of a taxon ceasing to exist in a region which it previously inhabited
  • MEGA, Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis
  • Spandrel (biology)  Evolutionary byproduct of some other characteristic
  • Speculative evolution  Science fiction genre exploring hypothetical scenarios in the evolution of life
  • Transitional fossil  Type of fossilized remains
General information
  • Evolution on In Our Time at the BBC
  • "Evolution". New Scientist. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  • "Evolution Resources from the National Academies". U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  • "Understanding Evolution: your one-stop resource for information on Evolution". University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  • "Evolution of Evolution – 150 Years of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species"". National Science Foundation. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  • Human Timeline (Interactive)Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History (August 2016).
Experiments concerning the process of biological evolution
Online lectures
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