The Seething Genetics of Health and the Evolution of Sex



It is well known that the adaptations that fit a species to be a colonist of newly opened habitats are not the same as those that fit one to persist in a mature community. In a transition from the one successful lifestyle to the other, fast growth and maximal production of uncared for offspring, which best increase descendance in uncrowded habitats, have to give place to slower growth and setting aside of material and energy for competition. This implies a range of social and antisocial activities which are mainly concerned with conspecifics. Some of the activities appropriate to a colonist are reduced or abandoned. For example, adaptations for dispersal though still needed [1] are usually focussed nearer at hand and changed in character [2]. Other activities have to be increased. Reproduction is through fewer, larger, better cared for offspring destined to contest for places in their environment just as their parents contested for them. The comparison of adaptation under the two regimes described—colonization, versus persistence in a developed community—summarize a field of evolutionary ecology that is often called “r- and K-selection”, r referring to the growth rate of population in ideal empty habitats and K to the limiting level of population that can be reached in crowded ones. However, obviously a much more complex picture is being projected in the changes instanced above than could be drawn directly from the logistic growth equation which was the original source of the “r” and “K” parameters referred to. The picture is indeed more complex even than is suggested in the formal treatments that later more properly integrated r and K into genetical selection theory (e.g., [3]). Nevertheless, reference to “r and K” has become for the time being a common usage, and, with reservations to be discussed later, its ideas still categorize fairly well a major trend of covariation that has been detected in various unrelated sets of species [4–6]. I will continue use of the r and K symbols and the idea in most of this paper but will mention some reservations at the end.


Dung Beetle Adaptive Landscape Mutation Theory Good Mutation Soft Selection 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Tokyo 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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