School of Mathematics

Alison Etheridge

Alison Etheridge abstract

Alison M Etheridge, Dept Statistics, Oxford University

Title: Modelling evolution in a spatial continuum

Abstract: Since the pioneering work of Fisher, Haldane and Wright at the beginning of the 20th Century, mathematics has played a central role in theoretical population genetics.  One of the outstanding successes is Kingman's coalescent.  This process provides a simple and elegant description of the way in which individuals in a population are related to one another.  However, it only really applies to very idealised `unstructured' populations in which every individual experiences identical conditions.  Spurred on by the need to interpret the recent flood of DNA sequence data, an enormous industry has developed that seeks to extend Kingman's coalescent to incorporate things like variable population size, natural selection and spatial and genetic structure.  But, until recently, a satisfactory approach to populations evolving in a spatial continuum has proved surprisingly elusive.  In this talk we describe a framework for modelling spatially distributed populations that was introduced in joint work with Nick Barton (IST Austria).  As time permits we'll not only describe the application to genetics, but also some of the intriguing mathematical properties of some of the resulting models.