Heritable variation in fitness — survival and reproduction — is the fuel of evolution by natural selection. Many human societies have dramatically reduced mortality before and during the prime reproductive years, making fertility a reasonably good proxy for the whole of fitness in much of our species. For this reason, empirical knowledge regarding the genetics of fertility must be an essential part of any framework for understanding past and ongoing trends in human adaptive evolution. Here we use R.A. Fisher's analysis of human fertility as a starting point and find strong support from more recent research for his main contentions: fertility is a moderately heritable trait, where much of the genetic influences are shared with psychological characteristics.
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