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Genes, Populations and Evolution

  • Enseignant(s):   L.Lehmann  
  • Titre en français: Gènes, populations et évolution
  • Cours donné en: anglais
  • Crédits ECTS: 6 crédits
  • Horaire: Semestre d'automne 2022-2023, 4.0h. de cours (moyenne hebdomadaire)
  •  séances
  • site web du cours site web du cours
  • Formations concernées:
    Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en économie politique

    Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en management, Orientation marketing

    Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en management, Orientation business analytics

    Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en management, Orientation comportement, économie et évolution

    Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en management, Orientation stratégie, organisation et leadership
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The goal of this course is to provide an introduction to evolutionary theory and an understanding of the ultimate forces changing trait values and behaviors in a population of interacting individuals, eventually leading individuals to become adapted to their environment. A related goal is to make the student aware of the fact that human traits and behaviors are the outcome of an evolutionary-genetic dynamic involving ecological and demographic feedbacks, which determines individuals’ preferences and provides foundations to microeconomic and social behavior.


The course will consist of five main parts:

(1) Introduction to evolution: This part will give an overview of the stylized facts about evolution and introduce some baseline notions, such as the variability of populations, the key concept of adaptation, and provide some broad motivation of the course.

(2) Population dynamics, natural selection, and mutation: This part will be an introduction to population dynamics and to the concept of fitness, which is central to evolutionary processes. We will first study population dynamics with and without limited resources. Then, we will study the mechanism of natural selection, which is a population dynamics process resulting in individuals becoming adapted to their environment. We will also study the process of mutation, by which new genetic variants are introduced into a population. Overall, this will provide an introduction to changes in character brought by evolution.

(3) Adaptive dynamics: Building on the previous notions, we will analyse the selective pressure and long-term adaptive dynamics by which population converge on evolutionary stable strategies. Here, we will study as examples the evolution of some key life history traits. In particular, we will investigate optimal allocation of resources to survival and reproduction, and study the evolutionary stable modes of resource competition and exploitation. We will also analyse eco-evolutionary feedback models leading to selection driven population extinction.

(4) Heritability and kin selection: This part will introduce the notion of behavior and phenotype and its decomposition into genetic and environmental causes, which is the basis of behavior genetics. We will study the resemblance between family member and the concept of heritability, which is the “genetic quantity” that answers the nature-nurture question. We will then investigate selection when interactions occur between relatives, and analyse the evolution of some of the most salient conflicts over resource allocation: parent-offspring conflict over care, conflicts between offspring, and conflicts within the individual itself. This will highlight that the fundamental unit of selection is not the individual but the gene.

(5) Age and ecologically structured population: Here we will study how evolution shapes aging, time preferences, how species interact and the conditions leading to the maintenance of diversity in an (eco)-system.

Many of above topics are in one way or another related to concepts found in microeconomic theory and more generally in the social sciences, such as time preferences, decision making, resources allocation, optimal investments, tragedy of the commons, externalities, Nash equilibrium, and we will try to make connections to economics and the social science whenever this is possible.


Population genetics: a concise guide by John Gillespie, John Hopkins




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