Molecular ecology is a field of evolutionary biology that is concerned with applying molecular population genetics, molecular phylogenetics, and more recently genomics to traditional ecological questions (e.g., species diagnosis, conservation and assessment of biodiversity, species-area relationships, and many questions in behavioral ecology). It is virtually synonymous with the field of "Ecological Genetics" as pioneered by Theodosius Dobzhansky, E. B. Ford, and others. These fields are united in their attempt to study genetic-based questions "out in the field" as opposed to the laboratory. Molecular ecology is related to the field of Conservation genetics.
Methods frequently include using microsatellites to determine gene flow and hybridization between populations. The development of molecular ecology is also closely related to the use of DNA microarrays, which allows for the simultaneously analysis of the expression of thousands of different genes. real-time polymerase chain reaction may also be used to analyze gene expression as a result of changes in environmental conditions or different response by differently adapted individuals.
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