IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The Enigma of Frequency-Dependent Selection

Listed author(s):
  • M. Heino
  • J.A.J. Metz
  • V. Kaitala
Registered author(s):

    Frequency-dependent selection is so fundamental to modern evolutionary thinking that everyone interested in evolutionary biology 'knows' the concept. It is even so fundamental that many authors of textbooks do not bother to define it. Yet it turns out that different authors (and sometimes even one and the same author) use the term to refer to different types of selection. In this paper we try to uncover the sources of this confusion. The concept is fairly well defined in the original concept of population genetical theory, which focuses on short-term evolutionary change, and basically ignores density-dependence. The problems start when the original concept is used in the context of long-term evolution, in which density-dependence is essential: without density dependence, lines of descent either die out or explode on the relevant time scales. With density-dependence, the definition of frequency-dependent selection, in the form in which it is usually given, becomes ambiguous. The concept of weak and strong frequency-dependence distinguish between two very different forms of frequency-dependent selection occurring in populations which experience density-dependent population regulation.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in its series Working Papers with number ir97061.

    in new window

    Date of creation: Sep 1997
    Handle: RePEc:wop:iasawp:ir97061
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    A-2361 Laxenburg

    Phone: +43-2236-807-0
    Fax: +43-2236-71313
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wop:iasawp:ir97061. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.