Darwin's Mechanism of Evolution
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© 1997
David H.A. Fitch
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Lecture notes

Darwin's main mechanism of evolution

Darwin's explanation for adaptation (as well as for evolutionary divergence) involves two theses:

  1. Because of the "Struggle for Existence", few offspring survive to reproduce
     
  2. Any heritable variation that improves an individual's ability to survive and reproduce (i.e., its "Fitness") will tend to be passed on to the next generation:  "Natural Selection"

These theses will be explored in the following pages in a way that combines Darwin's intuitive feeling for population dynamics with a mathematical foundation.

NoteIf you don't like math, don't worry--you will not be responsible for memorizing all the derivations.  (Darwin was pretty bad at math too, and might have made even greater discoveries if he had been good at it!)  It is easy to get an intuitive feeling for how populations work without going through the math.  But try the math anyway--math is just a symbolic language that will actually help you understand natural processes at a deeper level than your intuition might allow.

 

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 The
Struggle  Natural
Selection
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[The Struggle] [Natural Selection]

[Darwin]

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