6/29/2006

A cry for help

Could someone help me here? I'm planning to write a program to model drift-induced speciation. However, to do this I need two statistics that I don't have.

Firstly, I need to know how the chance of two organisms mating is likely to behave as a function of the distances between their birth locations. Obviously this is going to vary heavily from species to species - eagles will cover more ground than sloths. I would expect the distribution to be an exponential decay, with the parameter representing the organism's migratory ability. Can anyone confirm or correct?

Secondly, I need to know how the ability of two organisms to mate varies as a function of the accumulated genetic differences between them. On the face of it, this is a daft question - in the real world, some differences will have an impact so much greater than others as to make the distribution virtually meaningless. However, some kind of average would still be handy.

Again, my inclination would be to model this as an exponential curve, with the parameter being something that a Real Scientist would determine through experiment. It's presumably affected by genome compactness, though, so I can set it to pretty much any value I want for experimental purposes.

Can anyone help? I appreciate that this is research I should really be doing for myself, but frankly I don't have the first clue as to where to look.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Francois Rivest said...

Sounds interesting! Do you have any reason to justify Exponential distribution? I have made a search on PubMed on 'mating probability' and found 22 reviews. Maybe you can browse those abstracts.

6/29/2006 7:21 pm  
Blogger Coalescent said...

No reason whatsoever, it's just the classic decreasing curve.

However, I've since discovered that an exponential curve for ability to breed just doesn't work. New variations are so strongly selected against that they just vanish - fixation almost never occurs. Instead of an exponential curve, I'm currently modelling ability to breed with an S-shaped curve (the CDF of the normal distribution, to be precise).

Good point regards pubmed, will get reading.

6/29/2006 9:03 pm  
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