The evolving beta coalescent
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1214/EJP.v19-3332
In mathematical population genetics, it is well known that one can represent the genealogy of a population by a tree, which indicates how the ancestral lines of individuals in the population coalesce as they are traced back in time. As the population evolves over time, the tree that represents the genealogy of the population also changes, leading to a tree-valued stochastic process known as the evolving coalescent. Here we will consider the evolving coalescent for populations whose genealogy can be described by a beta coalescent, which is known to give the genealogy of populations with very large family sizes. We show that as the size of the population tends to infinity, the evolution of certain functionals of the beta coalescent, such as the total number of mergers, the total branch length, and the total length of external branches, converges to a stationary stable process. Our methods also lead to new proofs of known asymptotic results for certain functionals of the non-evolving beta coalescent. The principal tool is a new asymptotic expansion of certain functionals of the block counting process that involves a stable Poisson integral.