Questions relating to biological theory or theoretical developments that deals with biological processes.

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55
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2answers
2k views

Is there any evidence that sexual selection may lead to extinction of species?

Darwin suggested that sexual selection, especially by female choice, may counter natural selection. Theoretical models, such as a Fisherian runaway process, suggest that evolution of preference and ...
29
votes
2answers
855 views

What are the trajectories of flying insects?

Many flying insects tend to have very jagged trajectories. For moves of a fruit fly looks like a random walk. Is there any research on the properties of trajectories (e.g. their fractal dimension or ...
20
votes
1answer
659 views

Natural examples of XOR functions at the cellular level

We can often think of cells as a sort of circuit on macromolecules, and can show that they can accurately and robustly implement functions like $\text{MAJ}(x_1,...,x_n)$ (return $1$ if more than half ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is 'Grudger' an evolutionary stable strategy?

I am currently reading 'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins, which I am sure many here have read. The topic are evolutionary stable strategies (ESS) regarding cooperation. I apologise for the long ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Book recommendation on population/evolutionary genetics?

I have recently been involved in collaborations that require me to model the population genetics of eukaryotic populations. I fear I may either be "re-inventing the wheel" or making conceptual ...
12
votes
4answers
383 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
0answers
133 views

What have the L-systems (Lindenmayer systems) been actually used for in biology?

Wikipedia: An L-system or Lindenmayer system is a parallel rewriting system and a type of formal grammar. L-systems were introduced and developed in 1968 by Aristid Lindenmayer, a Hungarian ...
11
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2answers
239 views

Is there a program that simulates biology on a molecular level?

Is there a computer program that simulates biology on a molecular level? Software that has rules that simulates the rules of molecular-biology?
11
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1answer
141 views

Biostatistics: Pollen dispersal directionality

What Information am I looking for? Think about a tree that is sending pollen all over the place. Because of wind, most pollen grain will go toward one direction. Imagine, we split the 2D area around ...
10
votes
3answers
114 views

What is the smallest scale at which blood vessels, nerves and other structures are deterministic?

Super simple question, but I can't find the answer on the Internet (and I'm in a foreign country so the library is not English.) As the title says, what is the smallest scale at which blood vessels, ...
10
votes
1answer
232 views

(How) does coppicing fundamentally alter tree growth?

I am interested in adding the ability to model coppice tree production to a model of perennial crops (Miguez et al 2008).. Implementing the biomass pools and allocation parameters required for tree ...
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
3answers
470 views

Do biological phenomena follow Gaussian statistics?

I have recently entered the life sciences (from physics). I am concerned about the use of p values in the life sciences literature. For example, in this article, they test 9 - 12 rats in a control ...
9
votes
1answer
942 views

Why are there nail growth differences between humans and other mammals?

When a cat is growing, his nails are growing with him to some extent. A grown cat has a fixed nail length that is not extending. By contrast, human finger nails just keep on growing, so we have to ...
9
votes
3answers
142 views

Intuitive explanation for Kin- and Group- selection

It is known from theoretician in the field of kin selection that kin selection (inclusive fitness theory) and group selection are actually two sides of the same coin. In other words, these two ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the difference between a mechanistic and a statistical predictive model?

The simplest description of the difference between these two approaches that I have found are on this site who summarise the difference as: Mechanistic model: a hypothesized relationship between the ...
9
votes
1answer
550 views

Structure of fitness landscapes in the NK model

The NK model of rugged fitness landscapes consists of $N$ sites where fitness contribution of each site depends on its state $\{0,1\}$ and is epistatically affected by $K$ other sites. When defining ...
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
1k views

Scoring sequence against position weight matrix

I have a weight matrix of length 20 x 15 (amino acids x sequence positions). Each element of my weight matrix is a relative probability If I have a sequence say "AAPGTGASMHSGLLW" how would I score it ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

How exactly are game theoretical evolutionary models described during implementation for computer simulations?

When a biologist or a layman tries to reason the evolutionary explanation for something, they would simply use English with some math thrown in (for a random example, pick any explanation out of "The ...
8
votes
1answer
167 views

Model for fluctuating selection

Is there any mathematical model to predict the behaviour and long-term consequence of counter-acting selection at different time scale? For example, let's consider the bi-allelic gene A, with alleles ...
8
votes
2answers
504 views

What does fitness really mean?

Fitness is certainly the most important concept in the theory of evolution. My question does not have to do with practical measures of fitness but with the theoretical definition of it. I am a bit ...
8
votes
1answer
267 views

Genetic Drift: Models, assumptions and empirical observations

There two main mathematical models to describe the process of genetic drift are Moran model and Wright-Fisher model. My questions concern the assumptions of these models, the existence of other ...
8
votes
1answer
277 views

Hill's function for translational regulation

Transcriptional regulation is generally modeled as a Hill's function (similar to Michaelis-Menten Kinetics): $$\frac{dm_X}{dt}=\alpha _{m_X}.\frac{R}{K+R} -\beta _{m_X}.m_X$$ Where $m_X$ is the mRNA ...
8
votes
1answer
97 views

Basic Modelling in Quantitative Genetics

I am pretty bad in thinking quantitative genetics models. I am trying to get some basic understanding of modelling the evolution of a quantitative trait. I am therefore asking for help to analyze a ...
8
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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
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
2answers
138 views

Examples of references for mathematical approaches in bioinformatics that are applicable to linguistics?

Do you have any classic references for mathematical approaches in bioinformatics that are applicable to linguistics (or vice versa)? EDIT I am mainly interested in approaches to reconstruct the ...
7
votes
1answer
412 views

What is the minimum population size that Hardy-Weinberg calculations can be applied to?

I'm trying to find out if a particular allele is in Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium, but the data is poor. What's the minimum population number that you can use to get any sort of respectable conclusion?...
7
votes
1answer
525 views

What physics knowledge can be applied to biology of organisms and ecosystems?

In the wiki page of Biophysics: Biophysics spans all scales of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems. But after searching on the internet; the ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Smallest unit on which selection can act

Traditionally, the individual was considered to be the smallest unit on which Natural Selection (NS) acts. Today, we usually consider the gene as being the unit of NS. Of course, we should also ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

How much does the distance between a transcription factor binding site and a promoter influence transcription?

Assume we have a synthetic construct with a minimal (inducible) promoter that requires activation for significant transcription to occur. Realistically, how important is the distance between an ...
7
votes
2answers
596 views

Help with the Price equation

The Price equation describes mathematically the evolution of a population of units from one generation to the next. $\bar{w}\Delta \bar{z}$ = $Cov (w_i,z_i) $+$ E(w_i\Delta z_i)$ I would like ...
7
votes
2answers
128 views

Within and Between Allelic Class Diversity

I am reading Charlesworth et al. 1997. They talk about diversity within and between allelic classes. Nucleotide diversities ($π$) at each neutral site were estimated from the mean of $2 \sum z_t (...
7
votes
2answers
186 views

Is there a biological neuron that spikes in response to hyperpolarizing currents?

As some background I've been building Electrophysiological models of neurons, and in the process stumbled upon a model, that in all respects is biologically plausible, but has a bizarre property I ...
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
1answer
88 views

Hamilton's derivation of direct fitness from his 1970 paper

In his 1970 paper "Selfish and Spiteful Behaviour in an Evolutionary Model", Hamilton uses Price's equation to derive his well-known rule $rb -c >0$. My question is about one of the steps in his ...
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
159 views

Current along an axon

When an action potential is induced on a neuron, the local transmembrane potential jumps from $E_{\mbox{rest}}$, the resting potential of the neuron, to $E_{\mbox{eq}}$, the equilibrium potential of ...
6
votes
1answer
388 views

Computational/mathematical models for predicting phenotype from genotype

Karr, Sanghvi, et al. (2012) propose a whole-cell computational model for predicting phenotype from genotype in Mycoplasma genitalium. Their model simulates myriad cell processes such as DNA ...