The Annals of Applied Probability

Evolution of discrete populations and the canonical diffusion of adaptive dynamics

Nicolas Champagnat and Amaury Lambert

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The biological theory of adaptive dynamics proposes a description of the long-term evolution of a structured asexual population. It is based on the assumptions of large population, rare mutations and small mutation steps, that lead to a deterministic ODE describing the evolution of the dominant type, called the “canonical equation of adaptive dynamics.” Here, in order to include the effect of stochasticity (genetic drift), we consider self-regulated randomly fluctuating populations subject to mutation, so that the number of coexisting types may fluctuate. We apply a limit of rare mutations to these populations, while keeping the population size finite. This leads to a jump process, the so-called “trait substitution sequence,” where evolution proceeds by successive invasions and fixations of mutant types. Then we apply a limit of small mutation steps (weak selection) to this jump process, that leads to a diffusion process that we call the “canonical diffusion of adaptive dynamics,” in which genetic drift is combined with directional selection driven by the gradient of the fixation probability, also interpreted as an invasion fitness. Finally, we study in detail the particular case of multitype logistic branching populations and seek explicit formulae for the invasion fitness of a mutant deviating slightly from the resident type. In particular, second-order terms of the fixation probability are products of functions of the initial mutant frequency, times functions of the initial total population size, called the invasibility coefficients of the resident by increased fertility, defence, aggressiveness, isolation or survival.

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Ann. Appl. Probab., Volume 17, Number 1 (2007), 102-155.

First available in Project Euclid: 13 February 2007

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Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Primary: 92D15: Problems related to evolution
Secondary: 60K35: Interacting random processes; statistical mechanics type models; percolation theory [See also 82B43, 82C43] 60J85: Applications of branching processes [See also 92Dxx] 60J70: Applications of Brownian motions and diffusion theory (population genetics, absorption problems, etc.) [See also 92Dxx] 92D10: Genetics {For genetic algebras, see 17D92} 60J75: Jump processes 92D25: Population dynamics (general) 92D40: Ecology 60J80: Branching processes (Galton-Watson, birth-and-death, etc.) 60J25: Continuous-time Markov processes on general state spaces

Logistic branching process multitype birth death competition process population dynamics density-dependence competition fixation probability genetic drift weak selection adaptive dynamics invasion fitness timescale separation trait substitution sequence diffusion approximation harmonic equations convergence of measure-valued processes


Champagnat, Nicolas; Lambert, Amaury. Evolution of discrete populations and the canonical diffusion of adaptive dynamics. Ann. Appl. Probab. 17 (2007), no. 1, 102--155. doi:10.1214/105051606000000628.

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