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J Theor Biol. 2007 Nov 21;249(2):289-95. Epub 2007 Jul 18.

The one-third law of evolutionary dynamics.

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Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


Evolutionary game dynamics in finite populations provide a new framework for studying selection of traits with frequency-dependent fitness. Recently, a "one-third law" of evolutionary dynamics has been described, which states that strategy A fixates in a B-population with selective advantage if the fitness of A is greater than that of B when A has a frequency 13. This relationship holds for all evolutionary processes examined so far, from the Moran process to games on graphs. However, the origin of the "number"13 is not understood. In this paper we provide an intuitive explanation by studying the underlying stochastic processes. We find that in one invasion attempt, an individual interacts on average with B-players twice as often as with A-players, which yields the one-third law. We also show that the one-third law implies that the average Malthusian fitness of A is positive.

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