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Darwinian fitness and adaptedness in experimental populations of Drosophilia willistoni.


Fifteen second chromosomes were extracted from Drosophila willistoni flies collected in four natural populations. The adaptedness of populations homozygous for each chromosome was measured by average population size and productivity. Six 'control' populations were established with mixtures of the wild second chromosomes. The Darwinian fitness of flies homozygous for each wild second ehromosome, and of flies carrying random combinations of these chromosomes, was measured relative to the fitness of flies heterozygous for a wild and a marker chromosome. The Darwinian fitness of homozygotes for each second chromosome relative to the fitness of flies carrying random combinations of the natural chromosomes was then inferred. The estimated loss of fitness on making the natural second chromosomes homozygous was substantial, ranging from 39 to 83 pereent, with an average reduction in fitness of 66 percent. These results with D. willistoni are consistent with those from similar experiments with other drosophila species, and they are compatible with a significant role for heterosis in the maintenance of genetic variability. Populations homozygous for wild chromosomes differ in their adaptedness to the experimental environment. Population size and productivity are correlated, although the correlation is far from complete. Some populations have high productivity and low population size, or vice versa. The control populations, with greater genetic variability, were superior in adaptedness to the average of the single-chromosome populations. The Darwinian fitness and the adaptedness of the genotypes in this experiment were not significantly correlated. It follows that certain measures used by population geneticists, such as genetic load and average Darwinian fitness, cannot be taken as general indices of how well adapted a population is to its environment. © 1971 Martinus Nijhoff.

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