Intermittency and transient chaos from simple frequency-dependent selection

Proc Biol Sci. 1995 Aug 22;261(1361):233-8. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1995.0142.


Frequency-dependent selection is an important determinant of the evolution of gametophytic self-incompatibility systems in plants, aposematic (warning) and cryptic coloration, systems of mimicry, competitive interactions among members of a population, mating preferences, predator-prey and host-parasite interactions, aggression and other behavioural traits. Past theoretical studies of frequency-dependent selection have shown it to be a plausible mechanism for the maintenance of genetic variability in natural populations. Here, through an analysis of a simple deterministic model for frequency-dependent selection, we demonstrate that complex dynamic behaviour is possible under a broad range of parameter values. In particular we show that the model exhibits not only cycles and chaos but also, for a more restricted set of parameters, transient chaos and intermittency: alterations between an apparently deterministic behaviour and apparently chaotic fluctuations. This behaviour, which has not been stressed within the population genetics literature, provides an explanation for erratic dynamics of gene frequencies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetics, Population
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*
  • Selection, Genetic*