John Charles Avise (born 1948 in Grand Rapids, Michigan) is an American evolutionary geneticist, conservationist, ecologist, natural historian, and the author of more than 30 books. Among his many awards and honors, he was elected in 1991 a member of the National Academy of Sciences.


  • Phylogeography is a field of study concerned with the principles and processes governing the geographic distribution of genealogical lineages, especially those within and among closely related species. As the word implies, phylogeography deals with historical, phylogenetic components of the spatial distributions of gene lineages. In other words, time and space are the jointly considered axes of phylogeography onto which (ideally) are mapped particular gene genealogies of interest ... The analysis and interpretation of lineage distributions usually require extensive input from molecular genetics, population genetics, ethology, demography, phylogenetic biology, paleontology, geology, and historical geography. Thus, phylogeography is an integrative endeavor that lies at an important crossroads of diverse microevolutionary and macroevolutionary disciplines ...
  • Recent genome-sequencing efforts have confirmed that traditional "good-citizen" genes (those that encode functional RNA and protein molecules of obvious benefit to the organism) constitute only a small fraction of the genomic populace in humans and other multicellular creatures. The rest of the DNA sequence includes an astonishing collection of noncoding regions, regulatory modules, deadbeat pseudogenes, legions of repetitive elements, and hosts of oft-shifty, self-interested nomads, renegades, and immigrants. To help visualize functional operations in such intracellular genomic societies and to better encapsulate the evolutionary origins of complex genomes, new and evocative metaphors may be both entertaining and research-stimulating.
  • An example of how this is the best of times for evolutionary biology is provided by the recent elucidation of a draft sequence of all 3-billion-plus nucleotide pairs in the human genome Lander et al. 2001, Venter et al. 2001). ...
    Some prognosticators believe that the application of recombinant DNA methods to gene therapy and gene replacement (the repair or replacement of defective genes in the body) soon may lead to a revolution in the history of medicine comparable to the introductions of sanitation, anesthesia, and antibiotics and vaccines. If the new recombinant gene technologies live up to their early billing, we or our children might see a day when gene therapy can alleviate sickle cell anemia, heart disease, cancer, or various other human genetic disorders. Just as we may marvel at our forebears' fortitude in the dark ages before the advent of our modern medicine, our grandchildren may look back with marvel at our fortitude in the era preceding the wide availability of gene therapies. Nonetheless, the technical hurdles remain daunting. …
    … Ecologists and natural historians are painfully aware that the subject matter of their devotion—biodiversity—is under assault worldwide as the continents fill with people. The collective weight of human activities is leading to the disappearance of wilderness. Atmosphere and oceans are being polluted, marine fisheries are collapsing worldwide, and wetlands and freshwater aquifers have shrunk dramatically. In short, Earth's renewable and nonrenewable resources are being tragically squandered. In the Amazon Basin, for example, which is famous for its rich biota, slash-and-burn fires are so numerous that their light is visible to astronauts in the space shuttle. Some of these astronauts have felt moved to speak in a deeply spiritual tenor about the beauty of the “blue planet” and to bemoan how we are despoiling this special, fragile place.
  • (March 2003)"The Best and the Worst of Times for Evolutionary Biology". BioScience 53 (3): 247–255. ISSN 0006-3568. DOI:10.1641/0006-3568(2003)053[0247:TBATWO]2.0.CO;2.
  • Scientists now routinely utilize the genetic information in biological macromolecules—proteins and DNA—to address numerous aspects of the behaviors, life histories, and evolutionary relationships of organisms. When used to best effect, molecular data are integrated with information from such fields as ethology, field ecology, comparative morphology, systematics, and paleontology. These time-honored biological disciplines remain highly active today, but each has been enriched if not rejuvenated by contact with the relatively young but burgeoning field of molecular evolution.

External inks

  •   Encyclopedic article on John Avise on Wikipedia