Evolutionary dynamics of mutants that modify population structure
Natural selection is usually studied between mutants that differ in reproductive rate, but are subject to the same population structure. Here we explore how natural selection acts on mutants that have the same reproductive rate, but different population structures. In our framework, population structure is given by a graph that specifies where offspring can disperse. The invading mutant disperses offspring on a different graph than the resident wild-type. We find that more densely connected dispersal graphs tend to increase the invader’s fixation probability, but the exact relationship between structure and fixation probability is subtle. We present three main results. First, we prove that if both invader and resident are on complete dispersal graphs, then removing a single edge in the invader’s dispersal graph reduces its fixation probability. Second, we show that for certain island models higher invader’s connectivity increases its fixation probability, but the magnitude of the effect depends on the exact layout of the connections. Third, we show that for lattices the effect of different connectivity is comparable to that of different fitness: for large population size, the invader’s fixation probability is either constant or exponentially small, depending on whether it is more or less connected than the resident.
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The Royal Society
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