• Genetic relatedness and its causal role in the evolution of insect societies

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    • Keywords


      Behavioral ecology; causal explanation; causal necessity; causal sufficiency; causation; group selection; inclusive fitness; kin selection; levels of selection; models; natural selection; necessary conditions; sociobiology

    • Abstract


      The role of genetic relatedness in social evolution has recently come under critical attention. These arguments are herecritically analyzed, both theoretically and empirically. It is argued that when the conceptual structure of the theory of naturalselection is carefully taken into account, genetic relatedness can be seen to play an indispensable role in the evolution of bothfacultative and advanced eusociality. Although reviewing the empirical evidence concerning the evolution of eusocialityreveals that relatedness does not play a role in the initial appearance of helper phenotypes, this follows simply from the factthat natural selection – of which relatedness is a necessary component – does not play a causal role in the origin of any traits.Further, separating two logically distinct elements of causal explanation – necessity and sufficiency – explains why the debatelingers on: although relatedness plays a necessary role in the evolution of helping and advanced eusociality, relatedness aloneis not sufficient for their appearance. Therefore, if the relatedness variable in a given data set is held at a uniformly high value,then it indeed may turn out that other factors occupy a more prominent role. However, this does not change the fact that highrelatedness functions as a necessary background condition for the evolution of advanced eusociality.

    • Author Affiliations



      1. Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 4, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
      2. Department of Philosophy, King’s College London, London, UK
      3. Molecular and Integrative Biosciences Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
      4. Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
      5. Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
    • Dates

  • Journal of Biosciences | News

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