5. Mutation does not occur.

6. Natural selection does not act on the alleles under consideration.

While the list appears to be so restrictive that no population can meet its requirements, in fact many do, to a very good first approximation. Even more to the point, variation from the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium tells a population geneticist that one or more of these assumptions is not being met, thereby providing a clue about the forces at work within the population. Perhaps surprisingly, populations need not be very big to meet the conditions above—populations with as few as one thousand to two thousand individuals can do so.

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