Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (12): 23267.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2023267

• Special Feature: Celebrating Alfred Russel Wallace’s Bicentenary • Previous Articles     Next Articles

From natural selection to anthropogenic selection: Envisioning the Earth’s future standing on Wallace’s shoulders

King Hen-biau*()   

  1. Society of Subtropical Ecology, Taibei 11444
  • Received:2023-07-26 Accepted:2023-09-06 Online:2023-12-20 Published:2024-02-01
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Alfred Russel Wallace is known for the “Wallace Line” in addition to his work on natural selection alongside Charles Darwin. This paper reviews Wallace’s contributions to evolution theory of life and the field of biogeography, which allow us to envision the Earth’s future by standing on the giant’s shoulders. Evolution theory of life marked the dawn of biology. Natural selection determines which genome types will progress down the path of evolution. Wallace proposed that geographic isolation and geological events are the two major driving forces of speciation. His work separating the Oriental region from the Australasian region in zoogeographic realm well illustrates natural selection in evolution theory. However, humans are drastically changing the Earth’s environment today. Under the pressure of anthropogenic selection, many species suffer from extinction, while some show abnormality in their evolution directions. The arrival of Anthropocene has ushered a new geological era after 3.7 billion years of natural selection, with anthropogenic selection emerging as a driving force in evolution of life. When human interventions impact the natural environment, can natural selection continue its course governing evolution of life? Or does anthropogenic selection also play a role? What happens to biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability and services if humans preside over evolution of life? In Anthropocene, anthropogenic selection competes with natural selection. Today’s genomic datasets may provide us a deeper understanding of evolution of life, and offer answers to many relevant questions.

Key words: evolution, speciation, geographic isolation, geological events, natural selection, Anthropocene