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Fitness (often denoted in population genetics models) is a central idea in evolutionary theory. It can be defined either with respect to a genotype or to a phenotype in a given environment. In either case, it describes the ability to both survive and reproduce, and is equal to the average contribution to the gene pool of the next generation that is made by an average individual of the specified genotype or phenotype. The term "Darwinian fitness" is often used to make clear the distinction with physical fitness. If differences between alleles of a given gene affect Darwinian fitness, then the frequencies of the alleles will change across generations; the alleles with higher fitness become more common. This process is called natural selection.
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