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Data from: Evolution of drift robustness in small populations

Cite this dataset

LaBar, Thomas; Adami, Christoph (2018). Data from: Evolution of drift robustness in small populations [Dataset]. Dryad.


Most mutations are deleterious and cause a reduction in population fitness known as the mutational load. In small populations, weakened selection against slightly-deleterious mutations results in an additional fitness reduction. Many studies have established that populations can evolve a reduced mutational load by evolving mutational robustness, but it is uncertain whether small populations can evolve a reduced susceptibility to drift-related fitness declines. Here, using mathematical modeling and digital experimental evolution, we show that small populations do evolve a reduced vulnerability to drift, or ‘drift robustness’. We find that, compared to genotypes from large populations, genotypes from small populations have a decreased likelihood of small-effect deleterious mutations, thus causing small-population genotypes to be drift-robust. We further show that drift robustness is not adaptive, but instead arises because small populations can only maintain fitness on drift-robust fitness peaks. These results have implications for genome evolution in organisms with small effective population sizes.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: DBI-0939454