Deme (biology)

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In biology, a deme is a term for a local population of polytypic species that actively interbreed with one another and share a distinct gene pool. When demes are isolated for a very long time they can become distinct subspecies or species. The term deme is mainly used in evolutionary biology and is often used as a synonym for population.

In evolutionary computation a "deme" often refers to any isolated subpopulation subjected to selection as a unit rather than as individuals.

A deme in biological evolution is conceptually related to a meme in cultural evolution.


Various populations of gorillas can be understood by their geographical separation and have been assessed to determine distinct and disjointed gene pools.[1] The polar bear, Ursus maritimus, is understood to have 19 identifiable demes, even though their circumpolar distribution allows some interchange among the demes.[2]

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  1. ^ Andrea Beth Taylor and Michele Lynn Goldsmith, 2003
  2. ^ C. Michael Hogan, 2008