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Am Nat. 2002 Nov;160(5):661-82. doi: 10.1086/342813.

On a genetic model of intraspecific competition and stabilizing selection.

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  • 1Department of Mathematics, University of Vienna, Strudlhofgasse 4, A-1090 Wien, Austria.


A genetic model is investigated in which two recombining loci determine the genotypic value of a quantitative trait additively. Two opposing evolutionary forces are assumed to act: stabilizing selection on the trait, which favors genotypes with an intermediate phenotype, and intraspecific competition mediated by that trait, which favors genotypes whose effect on the trait deviates most from that of the prevailing genotypes. Accordingly, fitnesses of genotypes have a frequency-independent component describing stabilizing selection and a frequency- and density-dependent component modeling competition. We study how the underlying genetics, in particular recombination rate and relative magnitude of allelic effects, interact with the conflicting selective forces and derive the resulting, surprisingly complex equilibrium patterns. We also investigate the conditions under which disruptive selection on the phenotypes can be observed and examine how much genetic variation can be maintained in such a model. We discovered a number of unexpected phenomena. For instance, we found that with little recombination the degree of stably maintained polymorphism and the equilibrium genetic variance can decrease as the strength of competition increases relative to the strength of stabilizing selection. In addition, we found that mean fitness at the stable equilibria is usually much lower than the maximum possible mean fitness and often even lower than the fitness at other, unstable equilibria. Thus, the evolutionary dynamics in this system are almost always nonadaptive.

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