INFERRING PROCESS FROM PATTERN

INFERRING PROCESS FROM PATTERN - INFERRING PROCESS FROM...

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INFERRING PROCESS FROM PATTERN The mechanics of population genetics attempts to describe how alleles and genotypes change from one generation to the next. Often evolutionary biologists cannot study these transitions in real time, either because the generation time is too long (redwoods, elephants) or the species are fossils or other necessary information cannot be measured. In some cases the patterns of variation can suggest or indicate what processes have been acting. Ideally we would want to look at the patterns of variation and be able to say unequivocally that one or another process had produced that pattern. This is not always possible since identical patterns can be produced by very different processes. BUT: most patterns suggest obvious experiments that might tease apart various processes contributing to those patterns. Example: trajectory of allele frequency change shows a gradual but rough increase to fixation. If we had this information alone we could not determine whether drift or
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