Evolutionary stability for large populations

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We present a revision of Maynard Smith's evolutionary stability criteria for populations which are very large (though technically finite) and of unknown size. We call this the large population ESS, as distinct from Maynard Smith's infinite population ESS and Schaffer's finite population ESS. Building on Schaffer's finite population model, we define the large population ESS as a strategy which cannot be invaded by any finite number of mutants, as long as the population size is sufficiently large. The large population ESS is not equivalent to the infinite population ESS: we give examples of games in which a large population ESS exists but an infinite population ESS does not, and vice versa. Our main contribution is a simple set of two criteria for a large population ESS, which are similar (but not identical) to those originally proposed by Maynard Smith for infinite populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-401
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 7 2004


  • ESS
  • Evolutionary stability
  • Large populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


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