A multilocus-multiallele analysis of frequency-dependent selection induced by intraspecific competition

J Math Biol. 2006 Apr;52(4):483-523. doi: 10.1007/s00285-005-0355-1. Epub 2006 Mar 6.


The study of the mechanisms that maintain genetic variation has a long history in population genetics. We analyze a multilocus-multiallele model of frequency- and density-dependent selection in a large randomly mating population. The number of loci and the number of alleles per locus are arbitrary. The n loci are assumed to contribute additively to a quantitative character under stabilizing or directional selection as well as under frequency-dependent selection caused by intraspecific competition. We assume the strength of stabilizing selection to be weak, whereas the strength of frequency dependence may be arbitrary. Density-dependence is induced by population regulation. Our main result is a characterization of the equilibrium structure and its stability properties in terms of all parameters. It turns out that no equilibrium exists with more than two alleles segregating per locus. We give necessary and sufficient conditions on the strength of frequency dependence to ensure the maintenance of multilocus polymorphism. We also give explicit formulas on the number of polymorphic loci maintained at equilibrium. These results are based on the assumption that selection is sufficiently weak compared with recombination, so that linkage equilibrium can be assumed. If additionally the population size is assumed to be constant, we prove that the dynamics of the model form a generalized gradient system. For the model in its general form we are able to derive necessary and sufficient conditions for the stability of the monomorphic equilibria. Furthermore, we briefly analyze a special symmetric two-locus two-allele model for a constant population size but allowing for linkage disequilibrium. Finally, we analyze a single diallelic locus with dominance to illustrate the complications that can occur if the assumption of additivity is relaxed.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Diploidy
  • Genes, Dominant / genetics
  • Genetic Linkage / genetics
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genetics, Population
  • Linkage Disequilibrium / genetics
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Population Density
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic*