John Avise

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John C Avise
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Known forPhylogeography, Conservation Genetics, Evolutionary Genetics, Ecological Genetics
Scientific career
FieldsGenetics, Evolutionary Biology, Phylogeography
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Irvine

John Charles Avise (born 1948) is an American evolutionary geneticist, conservationist, ecologist and natural historian. He is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolution, University of California, Irvine, and was previously a Distinguished Professor of Genetics at the University of Georgia.

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he received his B.S. in 1970 in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan; his 1971 in Zoology from the University of Texas at Austin; and his Ph.D. in 1975 in Genetics from the University of California, Davis. Avise's research entails the use of molecular markers to analyze ecological, behavioral, and evolutionary processes in nature.[1] It covers a broad spectrum of topics: genetic parentage, reproductive modes, population structure, speciation, hybridization, introgression, phylogeography, systematics, and phylogenetics. He has conducted research on diverse animal taxa ranging from corals and sponges to representatives of all the major vertebrate groups.

Research and scientific contributions[edit]

In 1972, Avise published the first multi-locus allozyme analysis in any fish species, and uncovered a profound effect of genetic drift in nature. During the 1970s and 1980s, his protein-electrophoretic work on many fishes, mammals, and birds demonstrated that natural populations are genetically highly polymorphic and that molecular markers can be utilized to address many natural-history topics that previously had been analyzed solely from phenotypic data. He thereby helped to pioneer the fields of molecular ecology and molecular evolution. In 1994, he published Molecular Markers, Natural History and Evolution, a comprehensive textbook on the application of genetic markers in ecological, behavioral, and evolutionary contexts. In the late 1970s, he was among the first to introduce mitochondrial (mt) DNA to population biology. This seminal work laid the foundation for phylogeography,[2] a field for which he is recognized as the founding father. Among the many phylogeographic applications for which his laboratory paved the way were genetic assessments of marine and freshwater turtles, catadromous eels, unisexual fishes, and regional assemblages of birds, fishes, mammals, herps, and marine invertebrates. In the 1990s, Avise capitalized upon highly polymorphic microsatellite loci to analyze animal mating systems in nature, on creatures ranging from sea spiders and snails to polyembryonic armadillos to numerous fishes, including male-pregnant pipefishes and seahorses, and hermaphroditic killifishes. This line of inquiry eventuated in many articles plus a trilogy of books dealing with evolutionary perspectives on clonality (2008), hermaphroditism (2011), and pregnancy (2013). In addition to research in molecular ecology and evolution, Avise has published on the relevance of evolutionary genetics to human affairs ranging from religious beliefs, to the human genome, to genetically modified organisms, to the history and philosophy of science. In 2006, Avise helped to inaugurate a series of annual Sachler Colloquia, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, entitled "In the Light of Evolution" (ILE). Each ILE installment highlights a topic that can be informed by evolutionary thought and has broader societal relevance. Proceedings of ten ILE colloquia were published in PNAS, and most also appeared as edited books from the National Academies Press.

In 2020, Avise retired from the University of California Irvine so his status is now Distinguished Professor Emeritus at that institution. In 2021, Avise donated all of his writings (including 32 books plus 365 journal articles) to the Library of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, PA.

Honors and distinctions[edit]

  • 1985: Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 1988: Lamar Dodd Award, University of Georgia
  • 1991: Member, National Academy of Sciences USA
  • 1992: Sloan Foundation Fellow in Molecular Evolution
  • 1994: Earle R. Greene Award, Georgia Ornithological Society
  • 1994: President, Society for the Study of Evolution
  • 1994: Fellow, American Ornithologists' Union
  • 1994: Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences[3]
  • 1997: William Brewster Memorial Award, American Ornithologists' Union
  • 1997: Wilhelmine E. Key Award, American Genetic Association
  • 1998: Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation
  • 2000: President, American Genetic Association
  • 2004: President, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution
  • 2006: Molecular Ecology Prize, Molecular Ecology Journal
  • 2007: Alfred Russel Wallace Award, International Biogeography Society
  • 2010: Distinguished Faculty Award for Research, University of California at Irvine
  • 2011: Member, American Philosophical Society[4]
  • 2014: Genetics Hall of Excellence, American Fisheries Society


Some of his 32 Books:

  • Avise, John C. (2016), Sketches of Nature: A Geneticist's Look at the Biological World During a Golden Era for Molecular Ecology, Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-801945-0
  • Avise, John C. [and Francisco J. Ayala] (2014), Essential Readings in Evolutionary Biology, Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-1421413051
  • Avise, John C. (2014), Conceptual Breakthroughs in Evolutionary Genetics: A Brief History of Shifting Paradigms, Academic Press. ISBN 978-0124201668
  • Avise, John C. (2013), Evolutionary Perspectives on Pregnancy, Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231160605
  • Avise, John C. (2011), Hermaphroditism: A Primer on the Biology, Ecology, and Evolution of Dual Sexuality, Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231153867.
  • Avise, John C. (2010), Inside the Human Genome: A Case for Non-Intelligent Design, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-539343-0.
  • Avise, John C. (2008). Clonality: The Genetics, Ecology, and Evolution of Sexual Abstinence in Vertebrate Animals. OUP USA. ISBN 978-0-19-536967-0.
  • Avise, John C. (2007). On Evolution. The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8689-8.
  • Avise, John C. (2006). Evolutionary Pathways in Nature: A Phylogenetic Approach (1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-67417-1.
  • Avise, John C. (2004). Molecular Markers, Natural History and Evolution (2nd Revised ed.). Sinauer Associates Inc.,U.S. ISBN 978-0-87893-041-8.
  • Avise, John C. (2002). Genetics in the Wild (illustrated ed.). Smithsonian Books. ISBN 978-1-58834-069-6.
  • Avise, John C. (2001). Captivating Life: A Naturalist in the Age of Genetics (illustrated ed.). Smithsonian Books. ISBN 978-1-56098-957-8.
  • Avise, John C. (2000). Phylogeography: The History and Formation of Species. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-66638-2.
  • Avise, John C. (1998). The Genetic Gods: Evolution and Belief in Human Affairs. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-00533-4.
  • Avise, John C; Hamrick, James L (1996). Conservation Genetics: Case Histories from Nature. Chapman & Hall, New York. ISBN 978-0-412-05581-2.


  1. ^ Avise, John C. (2009-08-25). "John C. Avise". Current Biology. 19 (16): R673–R674. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.06.035. ISSN 0960-9822. PMID 19711500. S2CID 11336795.
  2. ^ Avise, J. C., J. Arnold, R. M. Ball, Jr., E. Bermingham, T. Lamb, J. E. Neigel, C. A. Reed, and N. C. Saunders (1987). "Intraspecific phylogeography: the mitochondrial DNA bridge between population genetics and systematics". Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics. 18: 489–522. doi:10.1146/ S2CID 26363881.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  4. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2019-04-07.