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March 17, 2016, 1:15 p.m.

Content discussing or presenting new data about the history of ecological genetics.

An open-notebook history of the Ecological Genetics Group

Erick Peirson | Feb. 9, 2016, 2:21 p.m.

The Genecology Project began in 2012 as an outgrowth of my dissertation research on plant ecologist Anthony David Bradshaw (1926–2008). Although the original focus of my research was not ecological genetics, by the time I left Bradshaw's archive in the fall of 2012 it had become clear to me that Bradshaw occupied a potentially decisive moment in the history of that field. As I later argued in my dissertation, Bradshaw's research was a fulcrum for the emergence of ecological genetics in Britain. Bradshaw was part of a small community of agriculturally-oriented plant ecologists operating at plant breeding stations and technical schools in Wales and Scotland that had incubated a unique research tradition that they called "genecology." Contrary to what we read in canonical histories of biology, ecological genetics was not the brainchild of Oxfordian zoologists, but rather a continuation (with modification) of a long tradition of agro-ecological plant genecology. It was genecological research that demonstrated just how powerful natural selection could be on small spatial scales, and just how quickly populations of plants could evolve as a result. The Genecology Project takes off from Bradshaw's story to tell the broader story of plant genecology and ecological genetics in Britain.

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