Individuating population lineages: a new genealogical criterion

Biology and Philosophy 32 (5):683-703 (2017)
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Abstract

Contemporary biology has inherited two key assumptions from the Modern Synthesis about the nature of population lineages: sexual reproduction is the exemplar for how individuals in population lineages inherit traits from their parents, and random mating is the exemplar for reproductive interaction. While these assumptions have been extremely fruitful for a number of fields, such as population genetics and phylogenetics, they are increasingly unviable for studying the full diversity and evolution of life. I introduce the “mixture” account of population lineages that escapes these assumptions by dissolving the Modern Synthesis’s sharp line separating reproduction and development and characterizing reproductive integration in population lineages by the ephemerality of isolated subgroups rather than random mating. The mixture account provides a single criterion for reproductive integration that accommodates both sexual and asexual reproduction, unifying their treatment under Kevin de Queiroz’s generalized lineage concept of species. The account also provides a new basis for empirically assessing the effect of random mating as an idealization on the empirical adequacy of population genetic models.

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Beckett Sterner
Arizona State University