Short-term Visitor

Measurement theory and evolutionary rates

PI(s): David Houle (Florida State University)
Start Date: 19-Nov-2008
End Date: 17-Dec-2008
Keywords: population genetics, evolutionary theory, quantitative genetics

The measurements that scientists make are intended to connect aspects of reality to the theoretical constructs employed to understand that reality. Measurement theory explicitly considers how best to measure and characterize attributes of reality consistent with the motivating theoretical context. I plan to review the literature on evolutionary rates from a measurement-theoretical perspective, and propose an alternative measures of rates that is more informative than those currently in use. The two available measures of rate are an arbitrary subset of the reasonable measures of rate; the darwin represents proportional change per year on a log scale, while the haldane represents change in standard deviation units per generation. Evolutionary theory of rates is based on the Lande equation which predicts change for traits measured on any scale in generations. Thus, I propose that rates are best measured on a mean-standardized scale in units of generation, which I call the lande. My proposed one month visit to NESCENT will come in the middle of a one-year sabbatical that will be spent in Europe. It will provide an opportunity to discuss broader issues of measurement theory with a variety of North American biologists, as well as to review evolutionary rates using measurement theory.

Related products

  • Measurement and Meaning in Biology Houle, D. C. Pelabon, G. P. Wagner, T. F. Hansen. 2011. Measurement and meaning in biology. Quarterly Review of Biology 86:1-32.