In Search of the Causes of Evolution: From Field Observations to Mechanisms

Grant, Peter

Publication date:2010
Publisher: Princeton University Press

Grant, P. (2010). In Search of the Causes of Evolution: From Field Observations to Mechanisms. Princeton: Princeton University Press.




This book brings together many of today’s pioneers in evolutionary biology to describe the latest advances and explain why a cross-disciplinary and integrated approach to research questions is so essential. The book’s contributors discuss the origins of biological diversity, mechanisms of evolutionary change at the molecular and developmental levels, morphology and behavior, and the ecology of adaptive radiations and speciation. They highlight the mutual dependence of organisms and their environments, and reveal the different strategies today’s researchers are using in the field and laboratory to explore this interdependence. Peter and Rosemary Grant (the editors of this work) are renowned for their influential work on Darwin’s finches in the Galápagos, and provide concise introductions to each section and identify the key questions future research needs to address.


This book is somewhat hard to rate as far as readability goes because there are numerous contributors who differ slightly in their wording. Overall, it is a solid book that mid-higher level high school students should be able to read and digest due to the numerous maps, illustrations, and graphs. The layout is somewhat helpful due to the fact that each chapter shows the individuality of the scientist writing it; students may be drawn more to one author than another – and that’s alright. In fact, siding with one scientist could be fuel for a student to read carefully in order to back up their opinion! A great class discussion could be had.

Use in Class

This book is especially effective because it has multiple contributors who speak about research related to evolution. This is significant because it takes the Theory of Evolution out of the textbook and shows how it is actually researched in the field today. It was published in 2010, so at the moment it is relatively recent. I think it is imperative to use a book like this in class to supplement other textbook literature because it specifically talks about findings that scientists have found recently, rather than just a broad picture of Evolutionary Theory. Jigsaw reading this book is a possible way to break up the class to read specific parts, then re-convene to discuss!

Unit Focus


Submitted by Luke Evancoe

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