Population Growth, Genetic Load, and the Limits of Selection

John O. Reiss

in Not by Design

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780520258938
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944404 | DOI:
Population Growth, Genetic Load, and the Limits of Selection

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This chapter considers another aspect of the relation between absolute and relative fitness: the relation of overall population growth rate to the variance in relative rate of increase in a population (generally known as the opportunity for selection or standardized variance in reproductive success). The standardized variance, or “index of total selection,” allows the examination of the quantitative limits of selection and drift in natural populations without worrying about the health of the population itself. The chapter also explores the natural history of differential survival and reproduction in Mendelian populations, and how this relates to whatever natural selection is occurring. It also shows that the confusion between absolute and relative fitness has greatly increased the difficulty of dealing with the issues surrounding genetic load, even if, ultimately, these issues can only be addressed empirically.

Keywords: absolute fitness; relative fitness; standardized variance; survival; reproduction; natural selection; genetic load

Chapter.  14029 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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