Biology as Poetry: Evolutionary Biology

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

Random Mating

Pairing among sexually reproductive organisms that displays no biases across populations.

Random mating in most populations is an ideal that is difficult to capture completely, and this is a due to limitations on the ability of organisms to dissemination (e.g., as due to spatial structure). In addition, other mechanisms can impact mating such that it becomes nonrandom rather than random. See panmixis as a synonymous term.

Because random mating is both difficult to perfectly achieve and because random mating is one of the five assumptions underlying Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, the Hardy-Weinberg theorem tends to be inherently inapplicable to most populations. This relative inapplicability, however, tends to be larger given populations that are sprawled over larger areas, and at the same time less applicable over smaller areas.

Local populations thus are more likely to display random mating among themselves than will larger populations as a whole. Deviations from random mating thus tends to inherently impact the genetic structure of especially larger populations. Other mechanisms of deviation from random mating are listed under nonrandom mating.

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