InterJournal Complex Systems, 256
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [256]
Submission Date: 981222
Cooperation, non-linear dynamics and the levels of selection
Author(s): Leticia Aviles

Subject(s): CX.34, CX.35

Category: Brief Article


Understanding the evolutionary transitions from lower to higher levels of organization (e. g., from genes to chromosomes, prokaryotic cells to eukaryotic cells, single-celled organisms to multicellular organisms, multicellular organisms to social groups) requires addressing at least two questions: What caused the lower level units to become associated into a higher level entity? Under what circumstances does the primary focus of selection shift from the lower level units to the higher level entities? Using insights gained through the study of the cooperative spiders, I explore these questions as they pertain primarily to the association of individuals into groups. I first consider the possibility that intercolony selection may be an effective evolutionary force in the cooperative spiders. I do so by discussing the evolution of their highly female-biased sex ratios within the context of a multilevel selection model. I then discuss empirical and theoretical evidence that cooperation may be responsible for giving rise to sufficiently cohesive groups on which selection may act. I argue that the nonlinear effects of cooperation on individual fitness may have important consequences on the existence, persistence, and dynamics of social groups.

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