Now we are able to give an explicit definition of adaptational biology.
1) At first neo-adaptationism breaks away from the modern evolutionary synthesis by discarding the gene-centered view of evolution and shifting its attention to the phenotype.
2) It introduces an analytic framework characterized with the concept strategy into the intraspecies phenotypic comparative study.
3) In sequence, it goes deep into the microbiology level and introduces the concept of strategy into the microcosmically adaptation study.
Based on the three characteristics mentioned above, we formally define adaptational biology as a comparative and experimental study of intraspecific adaptive variations in phenotypic physioecological strategy, based on microphysiological studies.
In this way, the basic pattern of adaptational biology takes shape, marking its independence from the theoretical category of the modern synthesis.
It should be noted that adaptational biology was not deliberately different from the modern synthesis at the very beginning. For example, the concept of optimum adaptation in strategy study and the optimization of the computing model that uses the concept of optimum adaptation as a framework are essentially part of neo-adaptationism, but the footing of their final interpretation can be traced to the modern synthesis. Early scholars believe that the understanding of adaptation, even for professional biologists, is not always accurate and appropriate. Rigorous scientific research and even mathematical calculations are required in order to arrive at a logical answer and to be verified in concrete biological research. For instance, fifty years ago Oxford University biologist David Lambert Lack put forward a well-known point of view that "Birds adjust their clutch size to ensure the greatest number of surviving young."
In this way, the final footing of adaptational biology has returned to a stereotype that tends to determine fitness from the view of reproductive success. A new biology at the very beginning has to go through a transitional process to take leave of the old thinking. Although its footing did not break away from the modern synthesis at first, adaptational biology has such a major change in study objects that it should turn its focus to adaptive physiology and phenotypic adaptation. This fundamental change associated with the new strategy calculative comparison enables the issues of adaptive physiology and phenotypic adaptation, which were once neglected and avoided, to be re-appreciated, and valuable discoveries are gradually made by calculative comparison of strategies.
Therefore, there are two distinctive characteristics for identifying whether a study is in the category of adaptational biology:
1) To see if it is a calculative comparison of intraspecific strategy or a calculative comparison of interspecific strategy.
2) To see whether it emphasizes on reproductive success or on the phenotypic and physiological optimization.
Those studies with characteristics of calculative comparison of intraspecific strategy variation + phenotypic and physiological optimization belong to the category of adaptational biology, and the studies with characteristics of calculative comparison of interspecific strategy variation + reproductive success (fitness) belong to the category of modern synthesis. In addition, a study combining calculative comparison of intraspecific strategy variation with reproductive success (fitness), or combining calculative comparison of interspecific strategy variation with phenotypic and physiological optimization is a mixture of the two directions.
After decades of development, study of intraspecific adaptive physiology and phenotypic adaptation has turned into a new research field with increasing significance from a negligible issue. It gradually breaks away from the calculative comparison of interspecific strategy. When the intraspecific strategy comparison becomes more and more independent and is attached much more importance, adaptational biology can get a firm foothold.