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Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Charles Rodell


Sexual reproduction, the process of generating offspring through genetic recombination, is viewed as evolutionarily advantageous to a population by enabling it to respond more readily to environmental change. Support of this hypothesis comes from the observation that the majority of species employ some mode of sexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction is relatively rare, suggesting that these species reduce their chances of survival. This project examines some of the parameters that relate to a population's ability to respond to its environment. Using a program coded in FORTRAN, a Monte Carlo model has been developed to test the role of recombination on population survival in a changing environment. Two types of selection (directional and stabilizing) are investigated in concert with varying rates of recombination and environmental change. The simulation results suggest that rates of recombination play a significant role in how well a population adapts and survives. The most favorable recombination rates differ depending upon the type of environment.