• Corpus ID: 11898668

The Diversity Paradox: How Nature Resolves an Evolutionary Dilemma

  title={The Diversity Paradox: How Nature Resolves an Evolutionary Dilemma},
  author={James M. Whitacre and Sergei P. Atamas},
Adaptation to changing environments is a hallmark of biological systems. Diversity in traits is necessary for adaptation and can influence the survival of a population faced with novelty. In habitats that remain stable over many generations, stabilizing selection reduces trait differences within populations, thereby appearing to remove the diversity needed for heritable adaptive responses in new environments. Paradoxically, field studies have documented numerous populations under long periods… 

Evolvability of representations in complex system engineering: A survey

This work analyzes, interpret, and extends the definitions of evolvability, a criterion derived from biological analysis, in order to derive an evolVability criterion suitable for complex system engineering.



Genetic and environment-induced pathways to innovation: on the possibility of a universal relationship between robustness and adaptation in complex biological systems

This brief commentary reconsiders the role of environmental change in the adaptation of species and asks whether positive robustness-evolvability relationships might exist not only for genetic but also environmental buffering, and comments on the merits of evolutionary theories that can integrate complementary pathways to adaptation under static and time-variant environments.

The population ecology of contemporary adaptations: what empirical studies reveal about the conditions that promote adaptive evolution

It is suggested that opportunities for population growth may be a key factor that promotes rapid evolution, since directional selection might otherwise be expected to cause population decline and create the potential for local extinction, which is an ever-present alternative to local adaptation.

Cryptic genetic variation promotes rapid evolutionary adaptation in an RNA enzyme

A detailed analysis of the evolving RNA populations in genotype space shows that cryptic variation allows a population to explore new genotypes that become adaptive only in a new environment, highlighting the positive role that robustness and epistasis can have in adaptive evolution.

Robustness and evolvability: a paradox resolved

  • A. Wagner
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2007
It is confirmed that genotype (sequence) robustness and evolvability share an antagonistic relationship, which means that finite populations of sequences with a robust phenotype can access large amounts of phenotypic variation while spreading through a neutral network.

Adaptation from standing genetic variation.


It is concluded that oceanic populations harbor the standing genetic variation necessary for the evolution of body size, but that this variation only becomes available to selection upon colonization of a new habitat.

Degenerate Neutrality Creates Evolvable Fitness Landscapes

Two design principles, redundancy and degeneracy, are studied for achieving robustness and it is shown that they have a dramatically different impact on the evolvability of the system.

Maladaptation and the Paradox of Robustness in Evolution

The paradox of robustness arises from evolutionary dynamics: enhanced robustness causes an evolutionary reduction in the adaptive performance of the target character, leading to a degree of maladaptation compared to what could be achieved by natural selection in the absence of robusts mechanisms.

Degeneracy: a design principle for achieving robustness and evolvability.

Degeneracy: a link between evolvability, robustness and complexity in biological systems

Evidence is presented that degeneracy is a fundamental source of robustness, it is intimately tied to multi-scaled complexity, and it establishes conditions that are necessary for system evolvability.