Why you should learn some population genetics

From reader surveys I know a substantial portion of the people who will see this post are financially well off (of those who aren’t, a large number are students). Therefore, you can invest in some books.

Often people ask me questions related to population genetics in the comments (sometimes I get emails). That is all well and good. But it is always better to be able to fish than have to ask for fish. Additionally, learning some population and quantitative genetics allows you to develop some tacit schemas through which you can process information coming at you, and through with you can develop some general intuition.

If you have a modest level of mathematical fluency and and the disposable income, here are three indispensable books which are like the keys to the kingdom:

* Elements of Evolutionary Genetics
* Principles of Population Genetics
* Introduction to Quantitative Genetics.

If you don’t have the cash to spare, there are online notes which are pretty good:

* Graham Coop’s Population Genetics notes
* Joe Felsenstein’s Theoretical Evolutionary Genetics

There are others online resources, but they are not as comprehensive. John Gillespie’s Population Genetics: A Concise Guide is good as very gentle introductions go, but if you are going to spend money, I think just plumping down for a more comprehensive textbook (which will have more genomics in it) is better over the long run.

The goal of getting these books isn’t to make you a population geneticist, but, if you are interested in evolutionary questions it gives you a powerful toolkit. Really nothing in evolutionary process makes sense except in the light of population genetics.

5 thoughts on “Why you should learn some population genetics

  1. Honestly it would help me if you would just make a taxonomy of the various subfields within the broad study of human genetics – a brief list of the different divisions in object of study and method as you see them.

  2. I couldnt get Gillespie’s book in the library, so got John Relethford’s Human Population Genetics instead, which Ive actually found pretty good for the layman (whether it is good is another question) Also, relatedy, Plomin et als Behavioral Genetics; although I assume none of it is news to most people reading here I’m finding it helpful.

    I might get Gillespie’s book eventually(or just go straight to Harti), but is it dated now? Newest editon seems to be 2004….

  3. I might get Gillespie’s book eventually(or just go straight to Harti), but is it dated now? Newest editon seems to be 2004….

    it’s a little dated for genomics, but most of the pop gen you will need is old. so not a big deal. if you really want genomics an introduction to population genetics was written recently with that in mind. OTOH, that book is not as comprehensive and it’s in early editions so there are lots of typos.

  4. Honestly it would help me if you would just make a taxonomy of the various subfields within the broad study of human genetics – a brief list of the different divisions in object of study and method as you see them.

    ok. well one issue is that obv the specialization is such that that the further off i look the glass gets more dark for me. but i’ll think about this.

  5. Thanks for the recommendations.

    I find a good book is great to organize one’s thinking and process new information. Often survey articles are also good, but a book is preferable when one doesn’t even know the basics well (like me).

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