Evolution with stochastic fitness and stochastic migration

Sean H. Rice, Anthony Papadopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Migration between local populations plays an important role in evolution - influencing local adaptation, speciation, extinction, and the maintenance of genetic variation. Like other evolutionary mechanisms, migration is a stochastic process, involving both random and deterministic elements. Many models of evolution have incorporated migration, but these have all been based on simplifying assumptions, such as low migration rate, weak selection, or large population size. We thus have no truly general and exact mathematical description of evolution that incorporates migration. Methodology/Principal Findings: We derive an exact equation for directional evolution, essentially a stochastic Price equation with migration, that encompasses all processes, both deterministic and stochastic, contributing to directional change in an open population. Using this result, we show that increasing the variance in migration rates reduces the impact of migration relative to selection. This means that models that treat migration as a single parameter tend to be biassed - overestimating the relative impact of immigration. We further show that selection and migration interact in complex ways, one result being that a strategy for which fitness is negatively correlated with migration rates (high fitness when migration is low) will tend to increase in frequency, even if it has lower mean fitness than do other strategies. Finally, we derive an equation for the effective migration rate, which allows some of the complex stochastic processes that we identify to be incorporated into models with a single migration parameter. Conclusions/Significance: As has previously been shown with selection, the role of migration in evolution is determined by the entire distributions of immigration and emigration rates, not just by the mean values. The interactions of stochastic migration with stochastic selection produce evolutionary processes that are invisible to deterministic evolutionary theory.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere7130
JournalPloS one
Volume4
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 9 2009

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