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Do recessive traits eventually disappear from a population? How does the genetic makeup of a population change over time?

These questions arise in the study of population genetics and we can use mathematics to answer these questions. In this module, you will learn terminology relevant to the study of population genetics. Then, by considering probabilities and frequencies, you will develop mathematical equations to help answer questions such as the ones posed above. In the process, you will formulate a well-known result in population genetics, namely the Hardy-Weinberg Principle. You will also discover the effects of natural selection on the genetic makeup of a population.

You will need Flash Player 10 to work your way through the module, as much of the content is interactive and requires Flash. If you do not have the most recent version of Flash, you can click here to download it.

It is important that you read all of the text on each page, and attempt to answer the questions independently before revealing the solutions. Links in the text are bold and underlined. The sidebar to the left offers a quick and easy way to navigate through the content on this site. In the sidebar, the title of the page you are currently viewing is italicized, so you can determine your progress. At the bottom of each page, there are back and forward arrows, which will take you to the previous or next page. The Home link at the top of this page will return you to this page, and the Two Phenotypes Applet and Three Phenotypes Applet links will open the interactive simulations in a new window or tab. If you are having trouble viewing the website, try viewing the page in full screen mode. Consult your browser help for more information regarding full screen viewing.


This module was written by Gerda de Vries and Cole Zmurchok for CRYSTAL-Alberta.

Diagrams contributed by David Galavan and Michael Chi.

Images from Wikipedia.

Content adapted from A Course in Mathematical Biology: Quantitative Modeling with Mathematical and Computational Tools, by G. de Vries et al, SIAM 2009, with permission.