Fitness in population genetics models) is the quantitative representation of natural and sexual selection within evolutionary biology.
It can be defined either with respect to a genotype or to a phenotype in a given environment. In either case, it describes individual reproductive success and is equal to the average contribution to the gene pool of the next generation that is made by individuals of the specified genotype or phenotype
. The fitness of a genotype is manifested through its phenotype, which is also affected by the developmental environment. The fitness of a given phenotype can also be different in different selective environments. fitness values can be assigned to alleles by averaging over possible genetic backgrounds. Natural selection tends to make alleles with higher fitness more common over time, resulting in Darwinian evolution.
The term “Darwinian fitness” can be used to make clear the distinction with physical fitness.Fitness does not include a measure of survival or life-span; Herbert Spencer‘s well-known phrase “survival of the fittest” should be interpreted as: “Survival of the form (phenotypic or genotypic) that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations.” Inclusive fitness differs from individual fitness by including the ability of an allele in one individual to promote the survival and/or reproduction of other individuals that share that allele, in preference to individuals with a different allele. One mechanism of inclusive fitness is kin selection.Fitness is often defined as a propensity or probability, rather than the actual number of offspring. For example, according to Maynard Smith, “Fitness is a property, not of an individual,
Amanda Lee – United States
Steph Pacca – Australia
but of a class of individuals — for example homozygous for allele A at a particular locus. Thus the phrase ’expected number of offspring’ means the average number, not the number produced by some one individual. If the first human infant with a gene for levitation were struck by lightning in its pram, this would not prove the new genotype to have low fitness, but only that the particular child was unlucky.” Alternatively, “the fitness of the individual – having an array x of phenotypes — is the probability, that the individual will be included among the group selected as parents of the next generation.
Tianna Gregory – United States
Kerri Hayes – United States
Dolly Castro – United States
Pamela Reif – Germany
Anna Nystrom – Sweden