By using both numerical and analytical approaches, we have shown that heterosis alone is not a mechanism for maintaining many alleles segregating at a locus. Even when all heterozygotes are more fit than all homozygotes, the proportion of fitness arrays that will lead to a stable, feasible equilibrium of more than 6 or 7 alleles is vanishingly small. More alleles can be maintained if, in addition to heterosis, it is assumed that there is very little variation in fitness from heterozygote to heterozygote, with the ratio of mean heterosis to standard deviation of fitness among heterozygotes in the neighborhood of 10. When such conditions hold, the allelic frequency distribution and equilibrium will be very uniform, with all alleles very close to equal frequency p = - . It is much more likely that stable equilibria for multiple alleles will be best explained by multiple niche selection. 1 n

  • Received August 22, 1977.