"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
– Theodoseus Dobzhansky.
Evolutionary biology is the subdiscipline of biology that attempts to understand the process of evolution and how this leads to patterns of diversity in populations of organisms. Like most biological sciences, evolutionary biology has its roots in natural history; whereas the natural history was characterised by exploration and detailed examination of living things, however, the modern evolutionary biologist tends to use a very small number of organisms as an experimental science. Mathematical modeling has grown in importance for evolutionary biology as a theoretical science, and several evolutionary biologists have in fact made large contributions to mathematics and statistics (e.g.R.A. Fisher).
In application, evolutionary biology has made enormous contributions to our understanding of the origin and adaptation of microbes and macroparasites (e.g. the evolution of HIV and its evolved drug resistance, the diversification of influenza virus), the evolutionary consequences of crop domestication and agriculture, the genetic causes of aging, and the persistence of endangered species. Evolution is, after all, genetic change.
Evolutionary biology is an important science, and is growing increasingly important in this "post-genomic era". This month's issue of Nature featured three reports from evolutionary biology. Yet despite this, the discipline occasionally encounters hostility in the public sphere. This is largely because many people do not understand how evolution works or believe that it conflicts with the tenets of their faith.