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Natural Selection and Age-Structured Populations

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  • Investigations
  • Biology
  • Mathematics


This paper studies the properties of a new class of demographic parameters for age-structured populations and analyzes the effect of natural selection on these parameters. Two new demographic variables are introduced: the entropy of a population and the reproductive potential. The entropy of a population measures the variability of the contribution of the different age classes to the stationary population. The reproductive potential measures the mean of the contribution of the different age classes to the Malthusian parameter. The Malthusian parameter is precisely the difference between the entropy and the reproductive potential. The effect of these demographic variables on changes in gene frequency is discussed. The concept of entropy of a genotype is introduced and it is shown that in a random mating population in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and under slow selection, the rate of change of entropy is equal to the genetic variance in entropy minus the covariance in entropy and reproductive potential. This result is an information theoretic analog of Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection.

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