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Competition, loss of selfishness mark shift to supersociety

exist between individuals in the same society diminishes as the incipient colonial society becomes larger, better organized and contains better division of labor and ultimately, cohesiveness.

Such societies in turn produce more reproductive offspring each year than neighboring societies that are less organized. Thus, genes or alleles that code for such behaviors will be propagated faster, Hlldobler says.

The second piece of the model takes into account that as the colonial organization of one group rises, there is a coincident rise in discrimination against members of other societies of the same species. Hlldobler notes that the competition between societies soon becomes a major force reinforcing the evolutionary process: In this way the society or insect colony becomes the extended phenotype of the collective genome of the society.

Hlldobler believes that this model developed with Reeve goes further than others in explaining the evolutionary transition from hierarchical organizations to superorganism, as it also demonstrates how the target of selection shifts from the individual and kin to group selection.

Such a nested tug-of-war model, he says, might also be applied equally well to the analysis of the evolution of other animal societies and give insight into the evolution of cooperation in non-human and human primates, in addition to such things as collectives of cells and the formation of bacterial films.


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Contact: Margaret Coulombe
Margaret.coulombe@asu.edu
480-727-8934
Arizona State University
8-Jun-2007


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