Null models are crucial for understanding evolutionary processes such as speciation and adaptive radiation. We analyse an agent-based null model, considering a case without selection—neutral evolution—in which organisms are defined only by phenotype. Universal dynamics has previously been demonstrated in a related model on a neutral fitness landscape, showing that this system belongs to the directed percolation (DP) universality class. The traditional null condition of neutral fitness (where fitness is defined as the number of offspring each organism produces) is extended here to include equal probability of death among organisms. We identify two types of phase transition: (i) a non-equilibrium DP transition through generational time (i.e. survival), and (ii) an equilibrium ordinary percolation transition through the phenotype space (based on links between mating organisms). Owing to the dynamical rules of the DP reaction–diffusion process, organisms can only sparsely fill the phenotype space, resulting in significant phenotypic diversity within a cluster of mating organisms. This highlights the necessity of understanding hierarchical evolutionary relationships, rather than merely developing taxonomies based on phenotypic similarity, in order to develop models that can explain phylogenetic patterns found in the fossil record or to make hypotheses for the incomplete fossil record of deep time.
Royal Society Open Science
Bahar, Sonya; King, Dawn; and Scott, Adam, "Multiple Phase Transitions in an Agent-Based Evolutionary Model with Neutral Fitness" (2017). Physics Faculty Works. 12.
Available at: https://irl.umsl.edu/physics-faculty/12
Published by 'Royal Society Open Science' at 10.1098/rsos.170005.