"Evolution Canyon": A microcosm of life's evolution focusing on adaptation and speciation

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Local microcosmic natural laboratories, dubbed "Evolution Canyon" (EC) models, reinforce studies of regional and global macrocosmic ecological theaters across life and unravel evolution in action. The EC model laboratories permit genomic, proteomic, and phenomic studies highlighting speciation and adaptation at a microscale. Critical transplant experiment tests can evaluate interslope differential fitness. Novel techniques of genetic mapping, sequence nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and wide genome coding and noncoding expressions can unravel evolutionary dynamics. Finally, fundamental problems such as stress effects on nonrandom mutations, lateral transfers, splicing variations, sex, and social evolutions, and adaptive strategies of prokaryotes and eukaryotes are testable. We are studying four "Evolution Canyons" (EC I-IV) in the Carmel, Galilee, Negev, and Golan mountains. We've identified 2,500 species in EC I (Carmel) from bacteria to mammals in an area of 7,000 m. Higher terrestrial species richness was found on the more stressful tropical "African" slope (AS). Aquatic species richness was higher on the milder, temperate "European" slope (ES). In soil fungi we found interslope local and regional adaptive divergence in sex, melanism, and conidia. In nine out of 14 (64%) model organisms across life we identified largely higher genetic polymorphisms on the more stressful "African" slope. In some model species we found higher mutation rates, gene conversion, recombination, DNA repair, and larger genome size as well as interstope divergent microsatellites, molecular polymorphisms, retrotransposons, and wide-genome gene expression on the more stressful AS. Remarkably, interslope incipient sympatric speciation was found across life. The "Evolution Canyon" model represents the Israeli ecological equivalent of the Galapagos Islands. Microclimatic selection overrides drift and drives both interslope adaptive radiation and incipient sympatric speciation. The EC model could potentially highlight many mysteries of evolutionary biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-506
Number of pages6
JournalIsrael Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2006


  • "Evolution Canyon"
  • Adaptive radiation
  • Incipient sympatric speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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