George Constable

University of York, UK

Exploiting timescale separation to understand the driving role of noise in evolution.


Noise is ubiquitous in evolutionary systems. However its role is often viewed as simply generating fluctuations around deterministic trajectories. In reality, stochasticity can generate much more pronounced effects, even generating selective pressures working against those predicted deterministically. In extreme scenarios, this can even lead to selection reversal, whereby analogous deterministic and stochastic models make contradictory predictions on the outcome of evolutionary competition. In this talk I will show how fast variable elimination provides a natural tool to understand such counter-intuitive behaviour. Using a series of biological vignettes on the evolution of cooperation, multicellularity, sex chromosomes, and mating behaviour, I will demonstrate where the technique is powerful, where it becomes difficult (but remains tractable), and where more mathematical progress needs to be made.

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