Evolution Without Change in Gene Frequencies

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Biologists often define evolution as a change in allele frequencies. Consideration of the evolution of the pocket mouse will show that it is possible to have evolution without any change in the allele frequencies in a population (through change in the genotype frequencies). The implications of this for genic selectionism are then discussed. Sober and Lewontin (1982) have constructed an example to demonstrate the “blindness” of genic selectionism in certain cases. Sterelny and Kitcher (1988) offer a defense against these arguments which assumes a conventionalist approach to populations. The example considered here will be shown to offer a more plausible and far-reaching argument against the view that alleles can always be seen as the units of selection.

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