Mills, Rob and Watson, Richard A.,
Capcarrere, Mathieu S., Freitas, Alex A., Bentley, Peter J., Johnson, Colin G. and Timmis, Jon (eds.)
Genetic Assimilation and Canalisation in the Baldwin Effect.
Proceedings of 8th European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL 2005), LNCS 3, .
The Baldwin Effect indicates that individually learned behaviours acquired during an organism’s lifetime can influence the evolutionary path taken by a population, without any direct Lamarckian transfer of traits from phenotype to genotype. Several computational studies modelling this effect have included complications that restrict its applicability. Here we present a simplified model that is used to reveal the essential mechanisms and highlight several conceptual issues that have not been clearly defined in prior literature. In particular, we suggest that canalisation and genetic assimilation, often conflated in previous studies, are separate concepts and the former is actually not required for non-heritable phenotypic variation to guide genetic variation. Additionally, learning, often considered to be essential for the Baldwin Effect, can be replaced with a more general phenotypic plasticity model. These simplifications potentially permit the Baldwin Effect to operate in much more general circumstances.
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