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Genetics. 1999 Oct;153(2):1041-53.

Sex and adaptation in a changing environment.

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  • 1Centre for the Study of Evolution and School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QG, Great Britain.


In this study we consider a mathematical model of a sexual population that lives in a changing environment. We find that a low rate of environmental change can produce a very large increase in genetic variability. This may help to explain the high levels of heritability observed in many natural populations. We also study asexuality and find that a modest rate of environmental change can be very damaging to an asexual population, while leaving a sexual population virtually unscathed. Furthermore, in a changing environment, the advantages of sexuality over asexuality can be much greater than suggested by most previous studies. Our analysis applies in the case of very large populations, where stochastic forces may be neglected.

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