Which evolutionary processes influence natural genetic variation for phenotypic traits?
Although many studies provide examples of evolutionary processes such as adaptive evolution, balancing selection, deleterious variation and genetic drift, the relative importance of these selective and stochastic processes for phenotypic variation within and among populations is unclear. Theoretical and empirical studies from humans as well as natural animal and plant populations have made progress in examining the role of these evolutionary forces within species. Tentative generalizations about evolutionary processes across species are beginning to emerge, as well as contrasting patterns that characterize different groups of organisms. Furthermore, recent technical advances now allow the combination of ecological measurements of selection in natural environments with population genetic analysis of cloned QTLs, promising advances in identifying the evolutionary processes that influence natural genetic variation.