INTRODUCTION Evolutionary theory attempts to explain two different aspects of organic nature : adaptation and speciation. Yet the genetic patterns and changes related to these two aspects at the molecular level are still controversial or little known. First, are protein polymorphisms primarily adaptive (Nevo, 1978), or rather neutral (Kimura, 1979) ? If protein polymorphisms are at least partly adaptive then the degree of genetic variation within and between populations should be at least partly correlated with an index of environmental heterogeneity in accord with the niche variation model (Van Valen, 1965). Second, is speciation associated with minor (Hubby and Throckmorton, 1968; Nevo et /., 1974) or major (Mayr, 1970; Dobzhansky, 1971) genetic change ? If speciation may occur with relatively little genetic change then genetic distance (Nei, 1972), indexed by the differentiation of structural genes, can provide a useful comparative yard-stick for the amount of evolutionary divergence between recently evolved pairs of species as compared to older pairs. This study explores these two questions with reference to gerbil rodents which are fossorial, hence narrow-niched, and which also display recent speciation in the coastal plain of Israel (Wahrman and Zahavi, 1955; Zahavi and Wahrman, 1957, Wahrman and Gourevitz, 1973).
Mammalia - International Journal of the Systematics, Biology and Ecology of Mammals – de Gruyter
Published: Jan 1, 1982
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