Evolutionary genetics has established that most natural populations have very high levels of genetic variation. A number of evolutionary factors control both the maintenance of genetic variation within populations (species, ecosystems) and the rates of genetic divergence between different populations (species, ecosystems). Among the most impor tant factors are mutation, recombination, random genetic drift, gene flow, and natural and sexual selection. Mutation and recombination are the primary factors introducing genetic variation into populations. Random genetic drift, gene flow, and natural and sexual selection act on this variation and control which genetic variants will be preserved and which will be removed from the population. Sufficient genetic divergence (cumulative or in specific traits or genes) results in the emergence of a new species.
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