Evolutionary genetics is the study of how evolutionary theory, which is based on the mechanism of natural selection, is related to genetic theory. This field of study combines the use of molecular methods to examine evolutionary patterns and analyze how the genes within populations change over time. Evolutionary processes take place at the population level.
The mechanisms of mutation, genetic recombination, migration and hybridization are responsible for creating genetic variation within populations. This genetic variation spreads through populations by the processes of genetic drift and gene flow and ultimately natural selection. It is through the method of natural selection that certain traits become more or less common.
It is through evolutionary genetics that the history and origins of different species can be studied. For example, phylogenetics is a field of study in which the relationships between different organisms are examined and hypotheses are made about the relatedness of particular groups of organisms.
Furthermore, evolutionary genetics is also related to the subjects of sexual selection, reproduction and factors such as migration and non-random mating which all have an influence on evolution. Over subsequent generations the genetic variation within populations becomes changed and the study of evolutionary genetics is devoted to uncovering how and potentially why these changes have occurred.
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