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Naturally clonal vertebrates are an untapped resource in ecology and evolution research.

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Science requires replication. The development of many cloned or isogenic model organisms is a testament to this. But researchers are reluctant to use these traditional animal model systems for certain questions in evolution or ecology research, because of concerns over relevance or inbreeding. It has largely been overlooked that there are a substantial number of vertebrate species that reproduce clonally in nature. Here we highlight how use of these naturally evolved, phenotypically complex animals can push the boundaries of traditional experimental design and contribute to answering fundamental questions in the fields of ecology and evolution.

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