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apostatic selectionapostatische Selektion (ger.)

  • A type of selection which operates on a polymorphic species. Classically, the term is used in relation to prey species that have several different morphological forms. It occurs when, in proportion to their frequency in the population, rare forms of a species are preyed on less than common forms, thus conferring a selective advantage on them. Such selection may produce a stable genetic polymorphism. (Oxford Dict. of Zoology 2009)

     It can be seen that there is important evidence that predators of various kinds can act to maintain visible non-mimetic polymorphisms. It will save verbiage in later discussion if I give these polymorphisms a name. I shall call them apostatic polymorphisms because the crucial thing about them is the selective advantage of phenotypes that stand out from the norm; in other words, the selective advantage of apostates. Since all palatable animals are not polymorphic, one may ask what conditions are likely to encourage predators to select for apostasy. […] apostatic selection is important in promoting genetic and evolutionary diversity.

    Clarke, B. (1962). Balanced polymorphism and the diversity of sympatric species. In: Nichols, D. (ed.). Taxon-omy and Geography. Systematics Association, London, 47-70: 59; 68.


    apostatic selection Frequency dependent selection in which a predator selects the most abundant morph in a polymorphic population resulting in a balanced polymorphism.

    Lincoln, R.J., Boxshall, G.A. & Clark, P.F. (1982). A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics: 19.