fitness & adaptation
Essay due before 5pm Wed 3rd Feb. Email an electronic copy to email@example.com or drop a hardcopy into my office (Zoology E13).
What is fitness, and how is the concept used in evolutionary biology?
"Fitness is a bugger!" J.B.S. Haldane
Fitness is a central concept in evolutionary biology, but causes endless confusion. Describe the different ways in which the term "fitness" has been employed, and discuss its usefulness in contemporary evolutionary thinking. (~1,500 words)
Dawkins, R. 1982. The extended phenotype. Oxford University Press. Chapter 10, "An agony in five fits".
Beatty, J. 1992. Fitness: theoretical contexts. In: "Keywords in evolutionary biology", Keller & Lloyd (eds.) pp115-119.
Keller, E.F. 1992. Fitness: reproductive ambiguities. In: "Keywords in evolutionary biology", Keller & Lloyd (eds.) pp120-121.
Paul, R. 1992. Fitness: historical perspectives. In: "Keywords in evolutionary biology", Keller & Lloyd (eds.) pp112-114.
As preparation for the tutorial, have a look at:
Gardner A (2009) Adaptation as organism design. Biology Letters 5, 861-864.
Gardner A (2008) The Price equation. Current Biology 18, R198-R202.