, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 421-430,
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Mathematizing Darwin

Abstract

Ernst Mayr called the first part of the evolutionary synthesis the ‘Fisherian synthesis’ on account of the dominant role played by R.A. Fisher in forging a mathematical theory of natural selection together with J.B.S. Haldane and Sewall Wright in the decade 1922–1932. It is here argued that Fisher’s contribution relied on a close reading of Darwin’s work to a much greater extent than did the contributions of Haldane and Wright, that it was synthetic in contrast to their analytic approach and that it was greatly influenced by his friendship with the Darwin family, particularly with Charles’s son Leonard.

Communicated by Guest Editor A. Houston
This contribution is part of the Special Issue ‘Mathematical Models in Ecology and Evolution: Darwin 200’ (see Marshall et al. 2010).