The Age-Specific Force of Natural Selection and Walls of Death

July, 2008
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Kenneth W. Wachter, Steven N. Evans, David R. Steinsaltz

W. D. Hamilton's celebrated formula for the age-specific force of natural selection furnishes predictions for senescent mortality due to mutation accumulation, at the price of reliance on a linear approximation. Applying to Hamilton's setting the full non-linear demographic model for mutation accumulation of Evans et al. (2007), we find surprising differences. Non-linear interactions cause the collapse of Hamilton-style predictions in the most commonly studied case, refine predictions in other cases, and allow Walls of Death at ages before the end of reproduction. Haldane's Principle for genetic load has an exact but unfamiliar generalization.

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