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Genetic Loads in Heterogeneous Environments

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  • Investigations
  • Biology


A model of population structure in heterogeneous environments is described with attention focused on genetic variation at a single locus. The existence of equilibria at which there is no genetic load is examined.—The absolute fitness of any genotype is regarded as a function of location in the niche space and the population density at that location. It is assumed that each organism chooses to live in that habitat in which it is most fit ("optimal habitat selection").—Equilibria at which there is no segregational load ("loadless equilibria") may exist. Necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of such equilibria are very weak. If there is a sufficient amount of dominance or area in which the alleles are selectively neutral, then there exist equilibria without segregational loads. In the N, p phase plane defined by population size, N, and gene frequency, p, these equilibria generally consist of a line segment which is parallel to the p axis. These equilibria are frequently stable.

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