Same for the terms "selective advantage" and "selective disadvantage" which I intend to use synonymously. There are usages of each on Google Scholar, but do evolutionary biologists understand what is meant?


1 Answer 1


What is unclear to you?

If you could highlight what is unclear to you, or what exactly are the semantic issues in your opinion, that would help to really address your misunderstanding. In absence of that, I will just give you a general explanation of their meaning.

What does 'fitness advantage' mean?

If a group of individuals has a fitness advantage, it means that this group of individuals has a higher fitness over some other group of individuals. The other group, then has a fitness disadvantage.

Natural selection

If we grouped these individuals based on genetics, then the genotypes having a fitness advantage will likely raise in frequency in the population. If we used phenotypic trait to group individuals and if the trait is heritable, then the frequency of these phenotypic traits is also likely to raise in frequency in the population.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. That is about what I expected. I just haven't seen that term frequently. I just wasn't sure whether if a group has a fitness it, by definition, has an advantage. $\endgroup$
    – sterid
    Oct 25, 2017 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ What about the terms "less well-adapted individuals" or "less well-adapted natural enemies"? $\endgroup$
    – sterid
    Oct 25, 2017 at 4:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The saying "les well-adapted" is less common the saying "fitness disadvantage". To me they sound very much the same. I would tend to think that we use the term "fitness disadvantage" when there is fitness variance in the population and we want to refer to it, while we could use "les well-adapted" to refer to the idea that the entire population has a lower mean fitness than some other hypothetical population (a load). In any, it really is the same concept but just eventually applied in slightly different context. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Oct 25, 2017 at 14:25

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