Blackwell Publishing

The rise of evolutionary biology - How are computers used in evolutionary biology?


Deterministic simulations

The first method of simulation deterministically calculates changes in genotype frequencies from generation to generation. Given the frequencies for one generation, an equation can be used to give the frequencies in the next generation. This process can be repeated indefinitely, simulating evolution over many generations.

The Monte Carlo method

An alternative method of simulation is the Monte Carlo method. Such a simulation might run like this: the genotypes of hypothetical individuals are stored in an array. A new generation is formed by randomly selecting two parents, creating offspring, and placing the new genotype into an array holding the new generation. This process is repeated until a new generation is created. Each individual can have a simple measure of "fitness" taken, and the least fit individuals are culled. If this whole procedure is repeated many times then the average fitness of the population usually increases.

The following animation demonstrates the method clearly.

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