The scientific study of short- and long-term changes in the size and age composition of populations and the processes driving these changes.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

24
votes
2answers
679 views

Smallest viable reproducing population

What is the smallest viable reproducing population, such as in a human population. By viable I mean a population which keeps genetic defects low (enough). A very strongly related question: what is ...
17
votes
2answers
4k views

How many humans have been in my lineage? Is it almost the same for every human currently living?

If I were to count my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, and so on up till, say chimps, or the most common ancestor, or whatever that suits the more accurate answer, how many humans would ...
17
votes
2answers
8k views

How many organisms have ever lived on Earth?

I've looked for some information on this, but couldn't find anything useful. Has there been any noteworthy attempt to estimate the sum amount of individuals of all species that have ever lived on ...
13
votes
1answer
276 views

What is the percentage of people living in England in 1500 AD whose lineage is still alive?

This sounds a bit random, but it stems from a lecture in statistical genetics which I attended a while ago. We were shown a population lineage graph from which it was clear that most lineages ...
12
votes
4answers
381 views

When are population dynamics models useful?

When are population dynamics models useful? There seems to have been a lot of research about it, but how does it help? If I need data about how a population will evolve under what conditions, I need ...
12
votes
1answer
128 views

Vaccination and population dynamics of an epidemic

I'm trying to figure out how should a vaccination model be built to correlate with population density, and I'm having problems to understand meanings of the results I receive when I apply theory on ...
12
votes
1answer
7k views

How many mice are on the Earth?

We are 7 billion human beings on the Earth. But how many mice are there? How would you estimate such a number?
11
votes
2answers
779 views

Is global life expectancy normally distributed?

I am trying to find out what the world distribution of life expectancy looks like.
11
votes
1answer
165 views

How big should the human population be, as predicted by body mass?

I would guess there is a theory in biology which states that the population size for a given species is inversely proportional to the body mass of individuals in that species. In other words, there ...
10
votes
1answer
222 views

Expected time for a neutral allele to reach a frequency of $p_1$ when starting at frequency $p_0$

Kimura and Ohta (1968) showed that the expected time for a neutral allele to reach fixation (given that it will reach fixation) is $$\bar t(p_0)=-4N\left(\frac{1-p_0}{p_0}\right)\ln(1-p_0),$$ where ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What prevents predator overpopulation?

I've often heard that a population, human or otherwise, will continue to grow as long as there is food available (assuming nothing else is killing them off). It makes sense: if you have food you can ...
9
votes
3answers
547 views

Genetic Diversity and Adaptation

I am somewhat new to evolutionary biology, having studied it on my free time as a computer science student. There is one particular thing that has always bothered me for which I have not seen a good ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

How does population stability evolve?

The number of individuals constituting a population is called population size. Over time population size does not remain constant, it fluctuates to different extent over generations because of ...
9
votes
1answer
677 views

When does weak selection produce qualitatively different results from strong selection?

In evolutionary game theory, it is typical to model organisms as having a base fitness that is modified slightly by the game interaction. The ratio of the game effect versus the base fitness ...
8
votes
2answers
110 views

Would a colony with only one male and female collapse?

This is a thought experiment: If we form a population with only a single founder pair, can this population survive? What would happen? Would this inbreeding cause the population to go extinct? Could ...
8
votes
0answers
106 views

How to define “Quasifixation” in continuous approximation of finite population?

Background Many models including the famous very first models derived by Sir Ronald Fisher in his early career, assume infinite population size. In an infinite population, an allele can rise in ...
7
votes
3answers
392 views

Why are the fertility rates of large predators kept low?

Predators at the top of a food chain, like lions, seem to have a relatively low fertility rate, which fits well to the ecosystem and avoids overpredation. But what is the mechanism that keeps the ...
7
votes
2answers
342 views

How does Natural Selection shape Genetic Variation?

Background Importance of the additive genetic variance As stated here, the fundamental theorem of Natural Selection (NS) by Fisher says: The rate of increase in the mean fitness of any organism ...
7
votes
1answer
97 views

Selection on linked loci in a diploid population

Let’s consider two linked loci $A$ and $B$ that are both bi-allelic. In consequence, we have four different possible haplotypes $A_1B_1$, $A_1B_2$, $A_2B_1$, $A_2B_2$, which frequencies are $X_1$, $...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Fisher's Geometric Model for Dummies

Fisher's geometric model is still today one of the most important and fundamental model in evolutionary biology but it seems to me that most student in evolutionary biology don't really understand it (...
7
votes
2answers
196 views

The Assumption of Weak Selection?

I was reading this question and I failed to fully understand the introductory part of it. The OP (@Artem Kaznatcheev) says: Most analytic models like to assume weak selection because it allows ...
6
votes
1answer
180 views

Effects of selection on effective population size

Background The effective population size ($N_e$) is a central concept of evolutionary biology and is influenced by several parameters. For example: sex ratio bias affects $N_e$ $\left(N_e = \frac{...
6
votes
1answer
159 views

Hill-Roberston effects and effective population size

From this article, first page, middle of the second column: Even if harmful alleles do not become fixed, they can still reduce the efficacy of selection on neighbouring loci through a process ...
6
votes
1answer
176 views

Is it theoretically possible to restore the Tiger population to 100,000?

The current global Tiger population is roughly 5100 according to Wikipedia. With habitat destruction and poaching continuing and no effective improvement in conservation, most likely the Tiger ...
6
votes
1answer
101 views

How can we calculate the minimum sustainable number of the panda population?

I have a degree in Biology so I'm a little embarrassed that I never learned this, but... How do we know 1600 Pandas isn't enough? I know that we have historical numbers (although I couldn't find ...
6
votes
0answers
68 views

Variance in Fst in the infinite island model

The most famous result in the study of structured populations come from Sewall Wright. He showed that in an island model, where each subpopulation is of size $N$ and the migration rate is $m$, then ...
6
votes
1answer
338 views

What does “Mutational Variance” mean?

Background The concept of mutational variance can be found in many articles including this one for example. The mutational variance of a trait number $i$ can be found in the M-matrix in position $m_{...
5
votes
2answers
177 views

Premise of life cycle synchronization between predator and prey

While reading about the predator satiation hypothesis of the periodical cicadas' 13/17 year life cycles, I started wondering about its premise. By the way, I understand the math behind the prime ...
5
votes
2answers
108 views

Stochastic parameters in population growth equations

I'm more of a mathematician than a biologist, so I had a question about an application of the population growth equation to real-life models, and thus would like to ask biologists for their insights. ...
5
votes
1answer
28 views

What happened to the gypsy moth epidemics in the Northeast US?

I remember that back in the 1980s, 1980-1984, gypsy moths were a veritable plague in the Northeast United States. They were literally everywhere. Sidewalks were covered with their squashed bodies (of ...
5
votes
1answer
100 views

Survival curve in early humans

The survival curve/function describes the probability of a given individual to survive to age $x$. In humans, today's survival function is very much influenced by medicine. This leads me to wonder ...
5
votes
2answers
213 views

What is Environmental Robustness? Is it different from plasticity?

Hansen (2006) in his review uses the concept of environmental robustness independently of the other concepts of robustness (at pages 139 and 140) without defining ...
5
votes
1answer
84 views

Can “human exclusion zones” in national parks for preserving Wolves and Grizzlies be a good idea?

There are National Preserves in the National Parks where some human activities are permitted. But can it make sense to create "exclusion zones" so no human would be permitted in a certain area, not ...
5
votes
1answer
44 views

How much do urban pigeons move around cities?

Do they tend to live their lives in one area of the city or do they move around? For example, do pigeons born on London's Trafalgar Square live their whole lives centered around Trafalgar Square or ...
5
votes
2answers
231 views

Linkage disequilibrium with multiple alleles and loci

Linkage disequilibrium $\left(D\right)$ for two bi-allelic loci is defined as: $$D=X_{11}X_{22} - X_{12}X_{21}$$ where $X_{11},\ X_{12},\ X_{21},\ X_{22}$ are the frequencies of the haplotypes $...
4
votes
1answer
165 views

Chaos theory and population cycles of odd periodicity

I have just begun to read about Chaos theory and have come across the statement that "Period three implies chaos." My question: Does any odd period imply chaos or only 3? If so, how can populations ...
4
votes
1answer
192 views

Population dynamics ODE with Allee Effects

From reading about Allee effects, it appears that there is a modification of the one-dimensional logistic equation to account for an allee effect given by: $$\frac{dN(t)}{dt} = rN\left(1-\frac{N}{K} \...
4
votes
1answer
152 views

Fixation rate at neutral loci

It is a classical result that the expected time for a neutral mutation to occur and to get fixed is $2 N \mu \frac{1}{2N} = \mu$, where $N$ is the population size and $\mu$ is the neutral mutation ...
4
votes
1answer
226 views

Start studying mathematical biology from basics

I am really passionate about theoretical and quantitative biology and I would like to build my future career around this topic. I've just got my bachelor's degree in biology (ecology) but scince I've ...
4
votes
1answer
246 views

Drake's Law. What is the genome-wide mutation rate and what are the estimates?

Drake's rule Drake's rule states that the genome-wide mutation rate is more or less constant across all species — from E.coli to the house sparrow. Data From what I think being Drake's original ...
4
votes
1answer
75 views

History: Do evolutionary and ecological processes occur at the same timescales?

Classically, it was thought that evolutionary processes occurred at a much slower pace than demographic/ecological processes. Nobody, ever thought about incorporating both processes into the same ...
4
votes
1answer
125 views

Forward versus backward numerical simulations in population genetics

My question is closely related to this post. There are a number of existing platforms to perform numerical individual-based simulation in populations genetics. An almost exhaustive list of such ...
4
votes
1answer
49 views

Is there an association between environmental and mutational robustness?

The robustness of a genotype is the ability of this genotype to resist (always produce the same phenotype) to various parameters such as mutations and environment. The ability of a genotype to resist ...
4
votes
1answer
167 views

How to calculate the effective population size ($N_e$) with overlapping generations?

From this Source: If generations are overlapping, then the effective population size $N_e$ does not equal the population size $N$. I know mathematical formulations in order to find the effective ...
4
votes
0answers
33 views

How to calculate the number of sterile insects that must be released in SIT?

The sterile insect technique (SIT) is used to control insect pests through overwhelming the population in sterile males. The increase in sterile males released into an environment causes the increase ...
4
votes
0answers
490 views

Mutation-Selection-Drift Equilibrium

mutation-selection-drift equilibrium is one of the most important concept of population genetics. I could easily find the calculations for mutation-secltion equilibrium and for mutation-drift ...
4
votes
2answers
89 views

Is it possible for two people to repopulate earth? [closed]

Today I was wondering this question whether it is possible for two people to repopulate Earth. What if everyone else disappeared, except for two people (man & woman)? Can they repopulate? In ...
3
votes
2answers
594 views

Initial population when i count backwards?

My question is dealing with how many ancestors it took to produce me: --> to produce me it took 2 people (my parents) = ($2^1$) people = 2 --> one generation further included = ($2^1 + 2^2$) people =...
3
votes
1answer
117 views

Inbreeding depression and dominance

From this article, second paragraph of the second page A classic theoretical result is that the mean of a character controlled by a single locus i with two alleles Ai1 and Ai2 is only affected by ...
3
votes
1answer
88 views

Guide to learning about Population biology / ecology / dynamics for a non-Biologist

I'm an applied mathematician who works in the field of feedback control systems but has been becoming interested in looking at population biology (e.g. Lotka-Volterra, Mathusian growth,etc.) from a ...