Definitions for vicar of bray

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  1. Vicar of Bray

    The "Vicar of Bray" is the name given to a hypothesis attempting to explain why sexual reproduction might be favoured over asexual reproduction, in which sexual populations are able to outcompete asexual populations because they evolve more rapidly in response to environmental changes. The offspring of a population of sexually reproducing individuals will show a more varied selection of phenotypes and that they will therefore be more likely to produce a strain that can survive a change in the ecology of the environment in which they live. Under the Vicar of Bray hypothesis, sex benefits a population as a whole, but not individuals within it, making it a case of group selection. The theory was named after The Vicar of Bray, a supposed cleric who retained his ecclesiastic office by quickly adapting to the prevailing religious winds, switching between Protestant and Catholic rites as the ruling monarch changed. A mathematized version of this theory was accepted by most biologists as being one of the most important reasons for the prevalence of sexual reproduction in the natural world until the implicit group selectionist character of the argument was re-examined in the course of the Williams Revolution. However, a more popular explanation for the evolutionary origin and maintenance of sex is currently the Red Queen Hypothesis, which instead proposes that sex benefits individuals directly.

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  1. Vicar of Bray

    . See Bray.


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