Mills, Rob and Watson, R. A.,
Rocha, Luis M., Bedau, Mark, Floreano, Dario, Goldstone, Robert, Vespignani, Alessandro and Yaeger, Larry (eds.)
On Crossing Fitness Valleys with the Baldwin Effect.
Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, .
Escaping local optima and crossing fitness valleys to reach higher-fitness regions of a fitness landscape is a ubiquitous concept in much writing on evolutionary difficulty. The Baldwin effect, an interaction between non-heritable lifetime plasticity (e.g. learning) and evolution, has been shown to be able to guide evolutionary change and ‘smooth out’ abrupt fitness changes in fitness landscapes –thus enabling genetic evolution that would otherwise not occur. However, prior work has not provided a detailed study or analysis on the saddle-crossing ability of the Baldwin effect in a simple multi-peaked landscape. Here we provide analytic and simulation studies to investigate the effectiveness and limitations of the Baldwin effect in enabling genotypic evolution to cross fitness valleys. We also discuss how canalisation, an aspect of many prior models of the Baldwin effect, is unnecessary for the Baldwin effect and a hindrance to its valley-crossing ability.
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