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Darwin-L Message Log 5:172 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<5:172>From @SIVM.SI.EDU:IRMSS668@SIVM.SI.EDU  Thu Jan 27 07:30:26 1994

Date: Thu, 27 Jan 1994 08:37:09 -0500 (EST)
From: Jim Felley <IRMSS668%SIVM.BITNET@KU9000.CC.UKANS.EDU>
Subject: tools
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Comments on the action of selection in human populations have
incorporated the concept of "fitness" (as in -- my paraphrase--
"3rd-world populations are more fit than populations in developed
countries, because they have more children").  Fitness is a
measure of an individual allele's reproductive success in a particular
environment, relative to other versions (alleles) of that gene.
Note that an allele may endow its carrier with the ability to produce
lots of offspring (some of which may carry that allele), but the
survival of those offspring will be determined by the environment in
which they live.  Fitness is thus the lonely link between population
genetics and ecology.  So, proceeding from this, two points:
(1) Fitness as a (relative) measure applied to genomes or individuals is
strictly an average based on the alleles constituting that genome or
individual.  Fitness cannot be compared between organisms that cannot
share genes, so it is never valid to state that "one species is more
fit than another."
(2) Fitness (at whichever level of organization you wish to speak)
cannot be validly compared in two populations that face different
environments.  An allele that confers a reproductive advantage in
the 3rd-world environment might confer a disadvantage in a developed-
world environment.  Remember, "fitness" is a _population_ genetic
character.

Brief intro:
   My background is in fish biology, including fish genetics,
morphology and ecology.  Currently, I with the computer office at
the Smithsonian Institution, where I do statistical consulting,
multimedia development, computer mapping, and am currently involved
with implementing aspects of the SI online library catalog.
   Also, I have actually met and had lunch with the great Bob O'Hara,
the originator of this discussion list, a discussion list fast
becoming my favorite!
                                      Jim

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      %                                                           %
      #     James D. Felley, Computer Specialist                  #
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      %     Phone (202)-357-4229   FAX (202)-786-2687             %
      #                    EMAIL:  IRMSS668@SIVM.BITNET           #
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