Alternative Adaptive Peaks
Living reference work entry
A set of two or more phenotypic states that result in higher fitness than other states. This is in contrast to situations in which there is a single optimal phenotype, with all variation surrounding that optimum being maladaptive.
Sewall Wright introduced the concept of the fitness landscape to visualize the relationship between an organism’s genotype or phenotype and its Darwinian fitness (Wright 1932). In most such visualizations, fitness is represented on a vertical Z-axis, such that the highest points on the landscape produce “adaptive peaks” centered over phenotypic combinations (on the X and Y axes) that have the highest fitness (Fig. 1). Adaptive processes, specifically natural selection or learning, are expected to move the phenotypes of populations or individuals from lower points on the landscape towards the adaptive peaks. In some cases, there will be more than one peak on an...
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