This paper mentions the pioneering work of our very own Joe Felsenstein who is sometimes referred to as Mastermind of Evolutionary Biology.

This paper is of interest to me because I’m interested in highlighting whether population genetics is a help or is actually damaging to the case of universal common ancestry (UCD) or if the field is so conflicted as to not be a viable tool in the question of UCD at all.

I merely posting it as a conversation since at the present time I have no specialization in this topic.

Blockquote

Describing the theoretical population geneticists of the 1960s, Joseph Felsenstein reminisced: “our central obsession was finding out what function evolution would try to maximize. Population geneticists used to think, following Sewall Wright, that mean relative fitness, W, would be maximized by natural selection” (Felsenstein 2000). The present paper describes the genesis, diffusion and fall of this “obsession”, by giving a biography of the mean fitness function in population genetics. This modeling method devised by Sewall Wright in the 1930s found its heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s, in the wake of Motoo Kimura’s and Richard Lewontin’s works. It seemed a reliable guide in the mathematical study of deterministic effects (the study of natural selection in populations of infinite size, with no drift), leading to powerful generalizations presenting law-like properties. Progress in population genetics theory, it then seemed, would come from the application of this method to the study of systems with several genes. This ambition came to a halt in the context of the influential objections made by the Australian mathematician Patrick Moran in 1963. These objections triggered a controversy between mathematically- and biologically-inclined geneticists, with affected both the formal standards and the aims of population genetics as a science. Over the course of the 1960s, the mean fitness method withered with the ambition of developing the deterministic theory. The mathematical theory became increasingly complex. Kimura re-focused his modeling work on the theory of random processes; as a result of his computer simulations, Lewontin became the staunchest critic of maximizing principles in evolutionary biology. The mean fitness method then migrated to other research areas, being refashioned and used in evolutionary quantitative genetics and behavioral ecology.

The paper is accessible from research gate:

EDIT: corrected “Master of Evolution” to “Mastermind of Evolutionary Biology”