Some Models for the Evolution of Adaptive Traits

  • Simon A. Levin
Part of the Lecture Notes in Biomathematics book series (LNBM, volume 39)


The elegance and persuasiveness of Darwinian thought strikes a sympathetic chord with ecologists and natural historians, who see in the beauty of nature remarkable examples of organisms “adapted” to their environments. The subtlety of the process of adaptation is however too often ignored, and the notion of optimization mistakenly equated with adaptation. Lewontin (1977) reminds us that “adaptation, for Darwin, was a process of becoming rather than a state of final optimality.” As pointed out elsewhere (Levin 1978), “environments change, not only due to extrinsic causes, but also as a result of adaptation already effected. The evolutionary response is to the present, and carries with it no guarantee that any sort of optimum will be attained. Evolution is something which simply happens, rather than a calculated, far-seeing program for optimization.”


Aspect Diversity Offspring Distribution Optimization Argument Polygenic Character Dispersal Polymorphism 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon A. Levin
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Ecology and SystematicsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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