Mathematical Biology Seminar

Sean Rice
Texas Tech University
Wednesday October 22, 2008
3:05pm in LCB 215
"Towards an axiomatic theory of evolution"

Abstract: Evolution involves both deterministic and random processes, both of which are known to contribute to directional evolutionary change. A number of studies have shown that when fitness is treated as a random variable, meaning that each individual has a distribution of possible fitness values, then both the mean and variance of individual fitness distributions contribute to directional evolution. Unfortunately the most general mathematical description of evolution that we have, the Price equation, is derived under the assumption that both fitness and offspring phenotype are fixed values that are known exactly. The Price equation is thus poorly equipped to study an important class of evolutionary processes. I present a general equation for directional evolutionary change that incorporates both deterministic and stochastic processes and applies to any evolving system.