An evolutionary dynamical system with explicit diploid genetics is used to investigate the likelihood of observing phenotypically overdominant heterozygotes versus heterozygous phenotypes that are intermediate between the homozygotes. In this model, body size evolves in a population with discrete demographic episodes and with competition limiting reproduction. A genotype-phenotype map for body size is used that can generate the two qualitative types of dominance interactions (overdominance versus intermediate dominance). It is written as a single-locus model with one focal locus and parameters summarizing the effects of alleles at other loci. Two types of evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS; continuously stable strategy, CSS) occur. The ESS is generated either (1) by the population ecology; or (2) by a local maximum of the genotype-phenotype map. Overdominant heterozygotes are expected to arise if the population evolves toward the second type of ESS, where nearly maximum body sizes are found. When other loci with partially dominant inheritance also evolve, the location of the maximum in the genotype-phenotype map repeatedly changes. It is unlikely that an evolving population will track these changes; ESSs of the second type now are at best quasi-stationary states of the evolutionary dynamics. Considering the restrictions on its probability, a pattern of phenotypic overdominance is expected to be rare.
Editor: D.A. Roff