Evolution in fluctuating environments: decomposing selection into additive components of the Robertson-Price equation

Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution
Steinar Engen, Bernt-Erik Saether

Abstract

We analyze the stochastic components of the Robertson-Price equation for the evolution of quantitative characters that enables decomposition of the selection differential into components due to demographic and environmental stochasticity. We show how these two types of stochasticity affect the evolution of multivariate quantitative characters by defining demographic and environmental variances as components of individual fitness. The exact covariance formula for selection is decomposed into three components, the deterministic mean value, as well as stochastic demographic and environmental components. We show that demographic and environmental stochasticity generate random genetic drift and fluctuating selection, respectively. This provides a common theoretical framework for linking ecological and evolutionary processes. Demographic stochasticity can cause random variation in selection differentials independent of fluctuating selection caused by environmental variation. We use this model of selection to illustrate that the effect on the expected selection differential of random variation in individual fitness is dependent on population size, and that the strength of fluctuating selection is affected by how environmental variatio...Continue Reading

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Related Concepts

Genetic Drift
Etiology
Impacts, Environmental
Evolution, Molecular
Neomalthusianism
Selection, Genetic
Environmental Illness

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