During the past decade, two lines of research have advanced our understanding of micro-evolution. On the one hand, a number of studies have generated evidence for strong selection on phenotypes (<link rid="b8">Kingsolver et al. 2001) and the contemporary (sometimes deemed 'rapid') evolution of phenotypic traits (<link rid="b6">Hendry & Kinnison 1999). On the other hand, other studies have sought to identify the genes that underlie ecologically important traits (<link rid="b11">Ungerer et al. 2008). Over the next decade, micro-evolutionists might expect considerable progress from the study of contemporary evolution at both the phenotypic and genetic level simultaneously. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, <link rid="b9">Le Rouzic et al. (2011) present a teaser for this approach. They examined contemporary evolution of an adaptive trait with a well-studied genetic basis, the number of lateral plates, in threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.). A time series of 20 years of change for this trait after introduction into a pond in Norway was compared with a similar time series of 12 years following the invasion of a lake in Alaska. Using a modelling approach, the authors then teased apart selection acting upon the phenotype and selection acting on a major effect gene. In both time series, selection was strong and consistent. The models suggested that selection could act directly on the phenotype, or through the gene's pleiotropic effects.