This opening chapter sets the scene by evaluating the significance of the guppy system as a tool for investigations in evolutionary ecology. It traces the growth of studies on the guppy, and illustrates how they have mirrored and indeed shaped shifting trends in the field. It provides a historical perspective showing why the species has become such an important model for evolutionary biologists. Pioneering work in many important areas such as sperm competition, sexual selection, and reproductive isolation has been done in the context of the guppy system. Key questions are identified and the book's structure briefly explained. The chapter also provides a general introduction to the species and addresses the following topics: taxonomic status, basic biology, natural range of guppy, reasons for emphasis on populations in Trinidad, and advantage of manipulations in the wild.
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