The Molecular Ecologist: Charles Goodnight

Ants and Aphids, Backlit Photo by binux.

Over at The Molecular Ecologist, John Stanton Geddes continues his interview series with quantitative geneticist Charles Goodnight, whose work covers everything from multi-level perspectives on natural selection to the the causal linkage between directly measurable trait variation and interactions between individual genes. Here’s a sample of what Goodnight has to say about the group selection versus kin selection debate (which I’ve discussed here before):

Why the controversy continues today is not so clear. It is interesting that it is mostly very one sided. Those who champion group selection tend to understand kin selection, and dismiss it because it is not useful to them. Those who tend to champion kin selection tend to not understand group selection and dismiss it because it is a priori wrong.

The interview also covers Goodnight’s thoughts about how molecular genetics has changed the field since his days in graduate school, his experience starting up the blog Evolution in Structured Populations and his estimation of the probability of extraterrestrial invasion—I recommend reading the whole thing.◼