Selection among Groups

Richard Mcelreath and Robert Boyd

in Mathematical Models of Social Evolution: A Guide for the Perplexed

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780226558264
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226558288 | DOI:
Selection among Groups

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In his book Animal Dispersion in Relation to Social Behavior, ornithologist V. C. Wynne-Edwards argued that many enigmatic bird behaviors functioned to prevent over-population. The book generated a storm of controversy, and luminaries like George Williams and John Maynard Smith penned critiques explaining why this mechanism, then called “group selection,” could not work. The result was the beginning of an ongoing and highly successful revolution in our understanding of the evolution of animal behavior, a revolution that is rooted in carefully thinking about the individual and nepotistic functions of behavior. This chapter takes a general look at multilevel selection and shows that the Price equation also leads to a description of natural selection as going on in a series of nested levels: among genes within an individual, among individuals within groups, and among groups. It first discusses three views of selection according to personal fitness, inclusive fitness, and multilevel selection. It concludes by discussing the evolution of dispersal as an example of how multilevel selection can be used to clarify an important biological problem.

Keywords: group selection; Price equation; dispersal; evolution; animal behavior; multilevel selection; inclusive selection; natural selection; personal fitness; inclusive fitness

Chapter.  9487 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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