In the classical interpretation, 'fitness' in fitness landscapes is understood as a property of an individual (e.g., viability or fertility) controlled by its genes. More generally, fitness can be an attribute of a mating pair such as a probability of successful mating between a pair of male and female genotypes, or fertility of a mating pair. Moreover, fitness landscapes can be defined for continuously changing ('quantitative') characters such as size, weight, color, or concentration rather than for discrete sets of genes. In this later case, fitness landscape can be defined at the level of a combination of quantitative traits (characterizing individuals or mating pairs) or as the average fitness of the population.

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