Laboratory adaptation allows researchers to contrast temporal studies of experimental evolution with comparative studies. The comparative method is here taken to mean the inference of microevolutionary processes from comparisons among contemporaneous populations of diverse origins, from one or multiple species. The data contrasted here come from Drosophila subobscura populations that were introduced to the laboratory at several different times and from two different locations. Two questions were addressed. First, can we correctly infer evolutionary dynamics from comparative data collected simultaneously from disparate populations? In most cases, we could, except for the character of starvation resistance. Second, are the evolutionary dynamics inferred from the comparative approach similar to those revealed by temporal studies of experimental evolution? For fecundity characters, they were. Overall the results show that both comparative and temporal studies are useful, though the former can be uninformative for characters with complex evolutionary trajectories.
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