A conversation with a physicist: Some thoughts on fitness

This past week I went over to the university at a nearby city, and talked to some physicists interested in complex systems, and among other things, biology. As seems to be the nature of physicists turned biologists, I was impressed with some of their ideas, but also impressed with their lack of knowledge of biology, […]

Spider Group Selection

I could keep going on what an individual is, but at least at this point I have put out the main points I have been thinking about. It may be a subject we will return to in the future. What I really should talk about a bit is our recent paper, “Site-specific group selection drives […]

Individuals as Multispecies Entities

I am feeling a bit schizophrenic these days, splitting my time between developing models of species differentiation, experimental design to measure the genetics of species differentiation – yes, it can be done, and blogging. The last is a bit confusing because it starts me wondering, when did I become a philosopher.   And lets just say, […]

Heritability and the individual

First off, an ad from a former graduate student I used to work with. Josh Payne, who was an author on the speciation in continuous populations paper I discussed some time ago , is looking for students and a postdoc to study evolution and robustness. Check out his ad if you are interested. To summarize to […]

Selection and Individuality

Apparently I have shifted to an every other week post. It is not that I am lazy, just that my life is a bit chaotic. A week ago Saturday my daughter got married, and this week I am flying back to Brazil. Somewhere in the haze last weeks post simply didn’t happen. blame the lack […]

What is an individual (Part 2): An arbitrary definition

Last week I discussed why defining the individual is so difficult. Having put you in an existential crisis over whether or not you are an individual, it is time to pick up the pieces and see if we can come up with a useful phenotypically based definition of an individual. At the very least perhaps […]

What is an individual (Part 1)

It seems to me that the bad-boy question of evolution that sneaks around the edges, and nobody seems to notice is what is an individual? Think about it: My definition of evolution is change in the distribution of a population due to the gain or loss of individuals. I use “individuals” as if that were […]

Speciation in continuous populations

I am in Brazil this week to give a talk about speciation in continuous populations, so I figure I will save a little effort by summarizing some of the stuff that is in that talk. By the way, Sao Carlos is a wonderful town, and if you can come up with an excuse to come […]

Wright’s Shifting Balance Process revisited one last time

It is shaping up to a busy summer, mostly because I am packing up my house so I can go to Brazil for a year. And that is my rather lame excuse for neglecting my blog. In any case, what I did so many weeks ago was go through the three phases of Wright’s shifting […]

Wright’s Shifting Balance Process: Phase 3 part 2

Last week I tried to establish that group selection by differential migration can work.   On both experimental and theoretical grounds we find it does work, and in fact will frequently be stronger than individual selection. The question comes where does it fit into Wright’s shifting balance process. The first problem we need to confront is […]