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Orzack S.H.,Fresh Pond Research Institute | Steiner U.K.,Stanford University | Tuljapurkar S.,Stanford University | Thompson P.,University of Aberdeen
Oikos | Year: 2011

Understanding the static and dynamic expression of life history traits is a prerequisite for the development of a causal theory of the evolution of aging and of life histories. We analyzed the statics and dynamics of reproduction and survival in a wild population of the northern fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis (Procellaridae). Survival rate is most influenced by year as compared to age and cohort. When temporal variation is ignored, survival rate increases slowly with age and then declines more rapidly at late ages. Survival rate contingent upon reproductive 'stratum' (producing an egg, hatching an egg, fledging a hatchling) also exhibits this pattern. Survival and reproduction have a positive static association in that survival rate increases as the apparent energy allocated to reproduction increases (as indexed by stratum). There is a broad distribution of realized lifetime reproductive success, which could be due to 'fixed' heterogeneity, with some individuals always having low survival and reproduction and others always having high survival and reproduction, or be due to 'dynamic' heterogeneity, with all individuals having the same expected reproductive and survival rates. Analysis of stochastic stratum dynamics indicates that individuals do not remain long in any given stratum and suggest that the variation among individuals with respect to lifetime reproductive success is due to dynamic heterogeneity. The probability of producing an egg increases with age for both sexes, whereas the probability of producing a fledgling initially declines with age and then increases. These results underscore the necessity of understanding the static and dynamic expression of demographic traits when making a causal claim about their evolution. © 2011 The Authors. Oikos © 2011 Nordic Society Oikos. Source


Orzack S.H.,Fresh Pond Research Institute
Biology and Philosophy | Year: 2014

The Formal Darwinism Project is an attempt to use mathematical theory to prove the claim that fitness maximization is the outcome of evolution in nature. Grafen's (2014, p. 12) conclusion from this project is that "....there is a very general expectation of something close to fitness maximisation, which will convert into fitness-maximisation unless there are particular kinds of circumstances-and further, that fitness is the same quantity for all genetic architectures." Grafen's claim appears to mean to him that natural populations are expected to contain individuals whose traits are optimal, i.e., any given trait outperforms all reasonable alternatives. I describe why Grafen's attempt can never provide a meaningful expectation as to the ubiquity of optimal traits in nature. This is so because it is based upon a misconception of the relationship between theory and empirical analysis. Even if one could use theory in the way Grafen proposes, I describe how his theory is causally incomplete. Finally, I describe how Grafen's conceptual framework is ambiguous. The Formal Darwinism Project has been inspired by "On The Origin of Species" by Darwin. The great lesson of this book was Darwin's demonstration of the necessary dialog between theory and data, with each influencing and being influenced by the other. Grafen's Formal Darwinism Project, an attempt to create understanding of nature by removing data from this dialog, reflects a failure to understand Darwin's great lesson. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source


Orzack S.H.,Fresh Pond Research Institute
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2012

Biologists in search of answers to real-world issues such as the ecological consequences of global warming, the design of species' conservation plans, understanding landscape dynamics and understanding gene expression make decisions constantly that are based on a 'philosophical' stance as to how to create and test explanations of an observed phenomenon. For better or for worse, some kind of philosophy is an integral part of the doing of biology. Given this, it is more important than ever to undertake a practical assessment of what philosophy does mean and should mean to biologists. Here, I address three questions: should biologists pay any attention to 'philosophy'; should biologists pay any attention to 'philosophy of biology'; and should biologists pay any attention to the philosophy of biology literature on modelling? I describe why the last question is easily answered affirmatively, with the proviso that the practical benefits to be gained by biologists from this literature will be directly proportional to the extent to which biologists understand 'philosophy' to be a part of biology, not apart from biology. © 2011 The Royal Society. Source


Hong W.S.,Yale University | Shpak M.,NeuroTexas Institute | Shpak M.,University of Texas at Austin | Shpak M.,Fresh Pond Research Institute | And 2 more authors.
Cancer Research | Year: 2015

Determining the evolutionary history of metastases is a key problem in cancer biology. Several recent studies have presented inferences regarding the origin of metastases based on phylogenies of cancer lineages. Many of these studies have concluded that the observed monophyly of metastatic subclones favored metastasis-to-metastasis spread ("a metastatic cascade" rather than parallel metastases from the primary tumor). In this article, we argue that identifying a monophyletic clade of metastatic subclones does not provide sufficient evidence to unequivocally establish a history of metastatic cascades. In the absence of a complete phylogeny of the subclones within the primary tumor, a scenario of parallel metastatic events from the primary tumor is an equally plausible interpretation. Future phylogenetic studies on the origin of metastases should obtain a complete phylogeny of subclones within the primary tumor. This complete phylogeny may be obtainable by ultra-deep sequencing and phasing of large sections or by targeted sequencing of many small, spatially heterogeneous sections, followed by phylogenetic reconstruction using well-established molecular evolutionary models. In addition to resolving the evolutionary history of metastases, a complete phylogeny of subclones within the primary tumor facilitates the identification of driver mutations by application of phylogeny-based tests of natural selection. © 2015 AACR. Source


Havens J.A.,University of Arkansas | Orzack S.H.,Fresh Pond Research Institute | Etges W.J.,University of Arkansas
Journal of Evolutionary Biology | Year: 2011

We describe indirect genetic benefits of mate choice in two allopatric populations of cactophilic Drosophila mojavensis. By manipulating mate choice opportunity, we show that greater mate choice among sexually mature adults leads to shorter offspring egg-to-adult development times; the extent of this reduction was influenced by population origin and by host plant environment. We performed multiple-choice mating trials with individually marked flies to investigate whether differential male mating success was a consequence of female choice, male interaction, or both. We demonstrate that male copulation frequency was not random and instead, was determined by female choice. Virgin females in these trials were no less discriminating than females that had been previously exposed to males. These results suggest that there are indirect benefits of female mate choice that are population and environment specific, consistent with the hypothesis of ecologically influenced 'good genes' sexual selection. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2011 European Society For Evolutionary Biology. Source

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