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Kin selection Vs altruism (social biology)

Kin selection Vs altruism (social biology)


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I know that this is a contentious topic and I found conflicting explanations online which is what prompted me to put his question up. In some papers, Kin selection is mentioned based off the concept of inclusive fitness (sum of direct and indirect fitness). However, Kin selection is said to be an altruistic characteristic. That being said, altruistic genes only propagate through indirect selection (since an actor gives up its own fitness and do not generally reproduce). In that case, isn't Kin selection based off just indirect fitness and not inclusive fitness as a whole?

In a webpage, it is mentioned that "Kin selection is the evolutionary mechanism that selects for those behaviors that increase the inclusive fitness of the donor.". In that case, how can kin selection be altruistic? Can someone shed some light on what Kin selection is exactly? Also, a proper definition for indirect selection would be good as well. Thank you.


how can kin selection be altruistic?

Part of you confusion is purely semantic.

Kin selection cannot be altruistic. Kin selection is an evolutionary process. Altruism is a behaviour. Saying "kin selection is altruistic" is like saying "natural selection is flying" (when thinking of selection for flying abilities in, say, flying squirrels).

Altruism

Altruism is a behaviour in which increases another individual fitness at the expense of its own fitness. However, this definition lead to confusion of whether one is talking to lifetime fitness or only to a contribution to one's fitness that will eventually be returned. For this reason people talk about True Altruism and False Altruism

True Altruism

True altruism is a behaviour in which the actors's (the one performing the altruistic behaviour) life time fitness is decreased while the recipient (the one benefitting from the altruistic behaviour) is increased.

True Altruism can only evolve via kin selection (or group selection for the few who still view these two processes as different).

It is the indirect component of the inclusive fitness that selects for altruism indeed.

False Altruism

False altruism refers to cases where the actor performs the behaviour because he is expecting (not necessarily consciously) a return later in life. False altruism can be seen as an investment.

Such false altruism can be selected by natural selection (no need to consider indirect fitness). "Return on investment" can be caused by direct reciprocity or indirect reciprocity. In case of indirect reciprocity, some populations can use a system of reputation, where individuals are more likely to help individuals that they have seen being helpful to others before.

Game theory

All types of interaction between individuals can be modelled in game theory. One can also investigate specific type of strategy in response to a a specific game. For example, Tit-for-Tat is one type of strategy in a multiple encounter between two individuals game.


Kin selection

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Kin selection, a type of natural selection that considers the role relatives play when evaluating the genetic fitness of a given individual. It is based on the concept of inclusive fitness, which is made up of individual survival and reproduction ( direct fitness) and any impact that an individual has on the survival and reproduction of relatives ( indirect fitness). Kin selection occurs when an animal engages in self-sacrificial behaviour that benefits the genetic fitness of its relatives. The theory of kin selection is one of the foundations of the modern study of social behaviour. British evolutionary biologist W.D. Hamilton first proposed the theory in 1963 and noted that it plays a role in the evolution of altruism, cooperation, and sociality however, the term kin selection was coined in 1964 by British evolutionary biologist Maynard Smith.

The apparent altruistic behaviour of many animals is, like some manifestations of sexual selection, a trait that at first seems incompatible with the theory of natural selection. According to the theory of sexual selection, even though some individuals possess certain conspicuous physical traits (such as prominent coloration) that places them at greater risk of predation, the trait is thought to remain in the population because the possessors of such traits have greater success in obtaining mates. Altruism is a form of behaviour that benefits other individuals at the expense of the one that performs the action the fitness of the altruist is diminished by its behaviour, whereas individuals that act selfishly benefit from it at no cost to themselves. Accordingly, it might be expected that natural selection would foster the development of selfish behaviour and eliminate altruism. This conclusion is not so compelling when it is noticed that the beneficiaries of altruistic behaviour are usually relatives. They all carry the same genes, including the genes that promote altruistic behaviour.

Genes are passed from direct parentage, but they are also passed by assisting the reproduction of close relatives. Natural selection favours genes that increase the reproductive success of their carriers, but it is not necessary that all individuals that share a given genotype have higher reproductive success. It suffices that carriers of the genotype reproduce more successfully on the average than those possessing alternative genotypes. A parent shares half of its genes with each progeny, so a gene that promotes parental altruism is favoured by natural selection if the behaviour’s cost to the parent is less than half of its average benefits to the progeny. Such a gene will be more likely to increase in frequency through the generations than an alternative gene that does not promote altruistic behaviour. Parental care is, therefore, a form of altruism readily explained by kin selection. (In other words, the parent spends energy caring for the progeny because it increases the reproductive success of the parent’s genes.)

Kin selection also extends beyond the relationship between parents and their offspring. It facilitates the development of altruistic behaviour when the energy invested, or the risk incurred, by an individual is compensated in excess by the benefits ensuing to relatives. The closer the relationship between the beneficiaries and the altruist and the greater the number of beneficiaries, the higher the risks and efforts warranted in the altruist. Individuals that live together in a herd or troop usually are related and often behave toward each other in this way. Adult zebras (Equus burchellii, E. grevyi, and E. zebra), for instance, will turn toward an attacking predator to protect the young in the herd rather than fleeing to protect themselves. Other examples include:

The elements of kin selection (that is, direct fitness and indirect fitness) lead directly to the concept now known as Hamilton’s rule, which states that aid-giving behaviour can evolve when the indirect fitness benefits of helping relatives compensate the aid giver for any losses in personal reproduction it incurs by helping.

This article was most recently revised and updated by John P. Rafferty, Editor.


Reciprocal altruism and kin selection are not clearly separable phenomena

Reciprocal altruism (RA) is usually thought of as occurring between non-relatives and is considered to be distinct from kin selection (KS). But because similar traits expressed by conspecifics are usually due in part to identical genetic determinants, individuals that engage in RA are likely to be doing so because of shared genes. This is true so long as there is any genetic determination of RA. Thus, RA is not clearly distinct from KS unless it occurs between different species. A new definition of RA presented here stresses that RA is likely to involve gains in inclusive fitness (as in KS) and does not have the requirement that future benefits outweigh the costs of an altruist's aid. Given the arguments presented here, it seems that no certain cases of true intraspecific RA are known. RA can be viewed as a genetic recognition system with the tendency to return aid being the marker by which reciprocal altruists recognize one another. Lastly, speculations are presented concerning the potential origin of true RA within an original context of KS.


What is Kin Selection?

Kin selection is a type of natural selection. It is an evolutionary strategy which favours the reproductive success of relatives even at a cost to the organism’s own survival and reproduction. Kin selection favours altruism. Charles Darwin was the first person to discuss the concept of kin selection. However, the term “kin selection” was coined by British evolutionary biologist Maynard Smith. Generally, animals engage in self-sacrificial behaviours that benefit the genetic fitness of their relatives. Therefore, kin selection is responsible for the changes in gene frequency across generations. Since the members of the same family or social group share genes, kin selection ensures the passing of their genes to the next generation.

Figure 02: Kin Selection

Kin selection can be explained using the following examples.

  • Adult zebras turn toward an attacking predator to guard the youngsters in the herd.
  • Belding’sground squirrels give alarm calls to warn other group members regarding a predator’s approach, putting their life at risk by drawing dangerous attention to the caller itself. Alarm calls allow other members to flee from the danger.
  • Worker honeybees defend their colony by performing suicidal attacks on intruders.
  • The Florida scrub-jay is a bird species which helps the members of the social group to reproduce, gathering foods and protecting the nests from predators.

Concluding remarks

Breeding for altruistic and competitive traits could improve sustainability. Plants sense neighbours and respond by pre-empting resources before neighbours access them (de Mazancourt & Schwartz 2012 ). This overconsumption requires excess resources and cues a more competitive phenotype at the cost of future yield, resulting in a ‘tragedy of the commons’ (Gersani et al. 2001 ). However, changes to crop breeding protocols (Fig. 2 right) could favour altruism by introducing population structure (e.g. as in animal breeding, Muir 1996 ) during early mass selection. Population structure would provide an opportunity for selection on indiscriminate altruism and result in group selection that could favour altruism.

Though kin recognition is not relevant to crops, because the consistently high relatedness within crop stands does not provide any function for kin recognition, other kinds of identity recognition could be important for crop performance. Same vs. different species recognition could help plants better compete with weeds while self vs. no-self recognition could reduce within-plant competition. Kin recognition responses in wild crop relatives could inform breeders on potential competitive, cooperative and altruistic traits.


Social semantics: altruism, cooperation, mutualism, strong reciprocity and group selection

From an evolutionary perspective, social behaviours are those which have fitness consequences for both the individual that performs the behaviour, and another individual. Over the last 43 years, a huge theoretical and empirical literature has developed on this topic. However, progress is often hindered by poor communication between scientists, with different people using the same term to mean different things, or different terms to mean the same thing. This can obscure what is biologically important, and what is not. The potential for such semantic confusion is greatest with interdisciplinary research. Our aim here is to address issues of semantic confusion that have arisen with research on the problem of cooperation. In particular, we: (i) discuss confusion over the terms kin selection, mutualism, mutual benefit, cooperation, altruism, reciprocal altruism, weak altruism, altruistic punishment, strong reciprocity, group selection and direct fitness (ii) emphasize the need to distinguish between proximate (mechanism) and ultimate (survival value) explanations of behaviours. We draw examples from all areas, but especially recent work on humans and microbes.


Biological Altruism vs. The Selfish Gene

I was a vehement believer in the Selfish Gene until about 5 minutes ago. I had read the selfish Gene, I was a big fan of the notion that we act as Gene carriers, fueled by those genes to pass them on. But, I just realize that this may be wrong. My biology teacher always referred to fitness as the end product of an individual’s journey through life, that the passing on of that individual’s DNA was the only factor that fueled natural selection. But, parents and children do not share the exact same genes (only about half if not less comes from one parent). Yes, a parent shares more genes with their child than another member of their species, even more so in comparison to another species. But, as many parents in the natural world protect their young, even though their exact DNA is not shared by them, would it not make sense for organisms to protect other individuals with similar DNA as them? This altruistic behavior would be less frequent of course, but should be observable in social creatures. It is even possible then, that this would call for the protecting of a member of a closely related species. So, what is your opinion, do you believe in social altruism, or do you stick to the theory of natural selfishness?

Altruism is actually predicted by selfish gene theory. However, it's not as simple as protecting "other individuals with similar DNA as them". That is vague and doesn't really make sense and warrants the question of whether there could even be a mechanism for that.

However, altruism DOES exist. Consider eusocial insects like ants and honey bees. 99% of the colony consists of sterile females. They simply care for their sisters or their nieces if their mother-queen is replaced by a sister-queen. This is altruism in it's purest form - complete sacrifice of your individual fitness to increase the fitness of your mother or sister. The result is a net positive indirect fitness in which your genes are still passed on through your sisters or nieces that successfully give rise to reproductive females and males.

In this system, sex is determined by by ploidy - haploids are male and diploids are female. In other words, an unfertilized egg gives rise to a male with 100% relatedness to the mother. Selfish gene theory would predict conflict between the sterile female workers and the queen since the female workers should want to produce males instead of caring for their sisters or nieces. In fact, we do see this in bumble bee colonies during what we call the "competition phase" where workers fight for reproductive dominance with the queen and start producing sons while the queen tries to maintain a monopoly on reproduction. Honey bee queens utilize pheromones to maintain reproductive dominance indicating that in the past this conflict, as predicted by selfish gene theory, was a problem for the colony and ultimately resulted in lower indirect fitness than the cooperative brood care we see now.


Inclusive fitness and the objective of social behavior

One advantage of the inclusive fitness approach is that it helps to make precise the idea that an organism's social behavior is purposive, or goal oriented. This idea of purpose—or apparent purpose—is a key component of the adaptationist approach to evolution that Darwin initiated. When nonsocial traits are concerned, biologists typically assume that an evolved trait will serve to enhance an organism's expected reproductive output models based on the assumption often enjoy empirical success. But altruistic behaviors seemingly do not fit this paradigm, because they reduce rather than enhance an organism's personal fitness. It is here that the inclusive fitness concept comes into its own, allowing us to rescue the idea that social behavior should appear purposive by suitably redefining the purpose in question—namely, the enhancement of inclusive rather than personal fitness. This feature of the inclusive fitness concept explains its popularity among behavioral ecologists and has been emphasized in recent work by Grafen ( 2006, 2014), Gardner and colleagues ( 2011), Okasha and colleagues ( 2014), and others.

What enables inclusive fitness to play this role is its focus on which actors control which phenotypes. Recall that an actor's inclusive fitness is a relatedness-weighted sum of the fitness effects for which it is causally responsible. Therefore, we can put ourselves in the position of the actor and ask, How should I behave in order to maximize my expected inclusive fitness? Because natural selection tends to favor traits that promote inclusive fitness on average, this question can serve as an informal route to predictions of which social behaviors will evolve. By contrast, we cannot usefully ask the same question with regard to neighbor-modulated fitness, because an individual's neighbor-modulated fitness contains components over which it may have no control. All we can do is put ourselves in the position of a recipient and ask, What genotypes are correlated with good outcomes as far as my neighbor-modulated fitness is concerned? But this heuristic is considerably less intuitive, because considerations of causation and control are replaced by considerations of statistical auspiciousness.

The idea that social behavior should serve to maximize an organism's inclusive fitness is hinted at in Hamilton's ( 1964) original paper but not made fully explicit. In his recent work on the formal Darwinism project, Grafen ( 2006, 2014) has attempted to place the idea on a firm footing, by proving formal links between gene-frequency change and an optimization program. Essentially, Grafen ( 2006, 2014) sought to prove, in a quite general setting, that if all the organisms in a population choose an action (from a fixed set of possible actions) that maximizes their inclusive fitness, population-genetic equilibrium will obtain and vice versa. Although (as Grafen 2006, 2014 admitted) this falls short of proving that natural selection will always lead inclusive fitness maximizing behavior to evolve (e.g., because gene frequencies may cycle indefinitely), it arguably provides some support for that belief. In effect, Grafen's ( 2006, 2014) results (taken at face value) mean that, so long as the population does actually evolve toward a stable equilibrium, we should expect inclusive-fitness maximizing behavior to evolve.

Grafen's ( 2006, 2014) results rest on one key assumption—namely, that costs and benefits have additive phenotypic effects on fitness. This means, for example, that the benefit b that an altruistic action has on the recipient is independent of the recipient's own genotype. In general, this is not a realistic assumption, because it rules out any frequency dependence of fitness, although it may be a good approximation in certain cases. Whether Grafen's ( 2006, 2014) results can be extended to the nonadditive case has not yet been settled (see Lehmann and Rousset 2014a, Gardner and colleagues 2011 for conflicting opinions on this issue).

At this point, it is useful to recall the general formulation of Hamilton's rule (HRG), which, as we saw, defines the r, b, and c coefficients in such a way that the rb > c condition is always correct, irrespective of whether costs and benefits are additive. It is tempting to suggest that Grafen's ( 2006, 2014) optimization results could be extended to the nonadditive case and, therefore, made fully general, simply by defining inclusive fitness using the r, b, and c terms of HRG. However, there is a problem with this suggestion recall that an organism's inclusive fitness is supposed to be fully within its control (i.e., to depend only the social actions that it performs). Because the b and c terms of HRG are functions of population-wide gene frequencies, the amount of inclusive fitness that an organism gets from a given action would depend on the state of the population, if inclusive fitness were defined as we have suggested.

This suggests that the generalization of Grafen's ( 2006, 2014) results on inclusive fitness maximization to the nonadditive case will be difficult to achieve. Furthermore, it highlights the important difference between Hamilton's rule, itself—the statement of the conditions under which an allele for a social behavior will be favored by selection—and the idea that an organism's evolved behavior will serve to maximize its inclusive fitness. These two aspects of kin selection theory, although they are related, should be kept distinct.


E.O. Wilson Proposes New Theory of Social Evolution

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The dominant evolutionary theory for Earth's most successful creatures, and a proposed influence on human altruism, is under attack.

For decades, selflessness -- as exhibited in eusocial insect colonies where workers sacrifice themselves for the greater good -- has been explained in terms of genetic relatedness. Called kin selection, it was a neat solution to the conundrum of selflessness in what was supposedly an every-animal-for-itself evolutionary battle.

One early proponent was now-legendary Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, a founder of modern sociobiology. Now Wilson is leading the counterattack.

"For the past four decades kin selection theory … has been the major theoretical attempt to explain the evolution of eusociality," writes Wilson and Harvard theoretical biologists Martin Nowak and Corina Tarnita in an Aug. 25 *Nature *paper. "Here we show the limitations of its approach."

According to the standard metric of reproductive fitness, insects that altruistically contribute to their community's welfare but don't themselves reproduce score a zero. They shouldn't exist, except as aberrations -- but they're common, and their colonies are fabulously successful. Just 2 percent of insects are eusocial, but they account for two-thirds of all insect biomass.

Kin selection made sense of this by targeting evolution at shared genes, and portraying individuals and groups as mere vessels for those genes. Before long, kin selection was a cornerstone of evolutionary biology. It was invoked to help explain social and cooperative behavior across the animal kingdom, even in humans.

But according to Wilson, Nowak and Tarnita, the great limitation of kin selection is that it simply doesn't fit the data.

At first, eusociality was seen only in insect species whose reproductive biology makes fertilized eggs grow into females, and unfertilized eggs into males. As a result, sisters share more genes with each other than their offspring. Through a kin selection lens, eusociality makes sense in these species: Sisters are driven to work for each other, not their less-related offspring.

But then eusociality was found in other insect species -- termites and aphids -- along with snapping shrimp and naked mole rats, in which siblings were no more related to each other than to their offspring. The correlation between high genetic relatedness -- "inclusive fitness," in the kin selection argot -- and eusociality no longer held.

The new study isn't the first to point these flaws out, but it exhaustively models the mathematics of the gap.

"Inclusive fitness theory is almost like a shortcut. It only applies to a small subset of all possible models," said Tarnita. "Outside of that subset, it doesn't work."

The researchers offer their own alternative theory, based on standard natural selection, but with a twist: After starting with a focus on a single founder, selection moves to the level of colony. From this perspective, a worker ant is something like a cell -- part of a larger evolutionary unit, not a unit unto itself.

"Our model proves that looking at a worker ant and asking why it is altruistic is the wrong level of analysis," said Tarnita. "The important unit is the colony."

The researchers propose a theoretical narrative that begins with a primordial, solitary ant -- perhaps something like the ancient Martialis heureka -- that lived near a food source and developed genetic mutations that caused it to feed its offspring, rather than letting them fend for themselves. Called progressive provisioning, such nurture is widespread in insects.

Another mutation could result in offspring that stayed near the nest, rather than leaving. They would "instinctively recognize that certain things need to be done, and do them," said Nowak, describing real-world examples. "Put two normally solitary wasps together, and if one builds a hole, the other puts an egg in it. The other sees the egg, and feeds it."

That would be enough to form a small but real colony -- and from there, eusociality could emerge from an accumulation of mutations that led to a hyper-specialization of tasks, limited reproduction to queens alone and favored the colony's success above all else. Within this colony, a queen would be analogous to a human egg or sperm cell -- a unit that embodies the whole. Worker self-sacrifice is no more nonsensical than that of a white blood cell.

The researchers called this series of steps a "labyrinth," one that isn't easily navigated. Hence the rareness of eusociality, which is believed to have arisen just 10 to 20 times in history. But their theory explains everything that kin selection does, plus what it doesn't.

"There is no need whatsoever to invoke kin selection or inclusive fitness," said Corina -- not in eusociality, not in any cooperative behavior.

The study provoked varying reactions among evolutionary biologists. An article in Cosmos quoted Oxford University's Stuart West describing the paper as "obviously incorrect," and Rice University's David Queller saying the new model "involves, and I suspect requires, close kinship."

Other researchers were more supportive. University of British Columbia mathematical zoologist Michael Doebeli said the new theory is better than kin selection at explaining eusociality, and stressed that kin selection is just an idea. "It's not a biological mechanism, it's an accounting technique," and one that misses a lot, he said.

According to David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary biologist at Binghamton University, the paper is a culmination of research that "knocks kin selection theory off its perch" -- something that should have happened long ago. "Kin selection theory has become so general that it's used to explain anything that evolves by social behavior," ignoring evolution's complexity, he said. "To the average animal researcher studying social behavior, it seems the only thing they need to know is relatedness. That's not unhelpful, but it's not the only factor."

Especially troubling to David Sloan Wilson is how kin selection, with its intuitive appeal to our preference for family over strangers, has been applied to human social life. "The idea that everything nice about human behavior is based on interactions among genetic relatives during the Stone Age, and is now being incorrectly expressed, is pathetic as an explanatory framework," he said.

Tarnita said the new theory of eusociality may be useful in describing how single-celled organisms gave rise to multicellular organisms. Human selflessness and cooperation, however, is of a different sort, also involving the interaction of culture and sentience, not just genetics and environment.

"There are certain things we can learn from ants, but I wouldn't try to draw a parallel," said Tarnita. "It's easier to think about ants, but people are complicated."

Update: The lede originally read, "and a proposed explanation for human altruism." I've since changed to, "a proposed influence." Thanks to commenters for pointing out the oversimplification.

Images: 1) Steve Jurvetson/Flickr. 2) Progressive provisioning in a solitary Synagris cornuta wasp, and a colony of the primitive eusocial wasp Polistes crinitus./Science.

Citation: "The evolution of eusociality." By Martin A. Nowak, Corina E. Tarnita & Edward O. Wilson. Nature, Vol. 466, No. 7310, August 26, 2010.

Brandon Keim's Twitter stream and reportorial outtakes Wired Science on Twitter. Brandon is currently working on a book about ecological tipping points.


Altruism and Kin Selection

Does true altruism exist in nature?Within nature Darwin has proposed the notion of natural selection as the driving force of evolution.

Individuals acquiring traits solely designed for their survival and reproductive fitness. Accordingly, animals act selfishly to survive and pass along their genes to future generations. Since then, controversy has circled around the idea of organisms acting out in a selfless manor decreasing their fitness for the success of another member’s fitness. Its puzzling to assume individuals will sacrifice themselves for the benefit of another member when Darwin’s assumptions were predominately associated with the survival of the fittest.

Explanations to this issue have been observed amongst kin where family members will help the survival of its relatives in order to increase the success of the group this is otherwise known as kin selection and is one explanation of altruism. Similarly, cooperation in nature has been viewed as a form of altruism where collaborative efforts will benefit the survival of the species versus selfish actions.

A study done by Mr. Allee found planarian worms likely to survive 1.

5 times longer if they grouped together under intense conditions versus groups who exhibited no grouping. Favoring kin selection and cooperation altruism enhances survival of the group level in turn leaving better fitness rates rather than individualistic behavior. But does each theory demonstrate true altruism in nature? In this paper I will present two opposing theories on true altruistic behavior in nature, one based upon alternative explanations for altruistic actions, while the other emphasizes selfish behavior induced for survival and proves altruism to be based on selfish implications too.What is altruism? Altruism is defined as a social behavior that decreases the fitness of the actor in turn increasing the fitness of the recipient.

(West). While Darwin believed in natural selection he was also aware of many functional help services amongst animals. Therefore, Darwin presumed natural selection to favor socially interactive animals by enabling advantageous traits that indirectly benefit the species at the group level. According to Mr.

Domondon’s review, Darwin presented a theoretical species where some monkeys will inherit a gene that permits alarm singling when predators are spotted, while others will not. Essentially the species that contain monkeys with this trait will sacrifice themselves, or engage in costly behavior causing a greater amount of its group members to survive and pass down the alarm-signaling gene. If such genes are generating a higher reproductive success then groups who do not possess the gene, then this altruistic trait will become inherited fundamentally causing more altruistically modified individuals. Hamilton presented kin selection as an alternative solution to altruism.

Behaviors operating between close relatives where an individual will act in a manor costly to oneself in order to help its kin. This is otherwise known as inclusive fitness, consists of both the actors fitness in addition to the fitness of each group member. (West). Inclusive fitness will be highest amongst closer related members in turn creating stronger kin selection.

Such instances can be observed where sibling allomothers sacrifice time and effort to care for the offspring of a mother, greatly increasing the survival of the infant given that the offspring shares a third of the genes of the sibling allomothers, this will increase their inclusive fitness. Simply put, kin selection will succeed if the indirect benefits outweigh the direct cost inflicted upon the actor. So, species displaying altruistic behavior to help their relatives will increase the survival of the community.Furthermore, reciprocal altruism additionally gives resolution to the issue of altruism.

It is associated with individuals beneficially providing services toward members while accepting costs and expecting this treatment in return later. This can develop into long lasting relationships between individuals where benefits will be higher than temporary costs as the behavior is returned in a tit for tat sense (Silk 2007). Also, game theories provide insight into this behavior for example, the Prisoner dilemma involves two unrelated individuals in a situation given the opportunity to cooperate with one another to gain a beneficial outcome. On the other hand one may act selfishly to gain individual benefits and the other will acquire the costs entirety.

The idea is to achieve equal cooperation and to obtain maximum fitness benefits to each participator. For example, if two monkeys come across a predator they are given two opportunities, flee and leave the other monkey as prey, or jump the leopard in an attempt to overpower the leopard and equally flee. At this point the monkeys will have to decide the best method that will likely be at the individuals best interest. However if both monkeys jump the leopard and survive, it is likely that this trait will be passed down.

Hence, cooperation and reciprocal altruism may deem some costs but again benefits outweigh the costs and greatly provide better fitness.Does true altruism exist in nature? Altruism fundamentally presumes an individual to be sacrificing its own time and resources to benefit another member’s success, posing a huge problem in evolution. Individuals gain beneficial traits by natural selection for the selfish purpose of enhancing their own survival rate. Also, evolution acting at the individual level allows genetic traits unfit for survival to die out.

If deleterious genes cause a mutation within a species, perhaps a discoloration unpleasing to the opposite sex, this individual is likely to have a lower fitness, and natural selection will weed this trait out. Thus, animals with successful traits that increase reproductive fitness and survival will continue passing down so that they will surpass proximate competitive species or conditions benefiting the survival of its kind. Mr. Allee has suggested altruistic genes to act selfishly throughout a community, in this case the species should be equally cooperating and engaging in selfless behavior benefiting the species as a whole.

However, scientists have brought forth notions of potential cheaters, individuals who will receive benefits from actors and will not return the benefits and or will not display a case of altruism toward individuals. In this case selfish genes will return to the population weeding out altruistic genes. Above all, individuals acting selfishly will gain higher benefits toward their own survival without adhering to any costs. Moreover, while many examples provide solutions to the issues pertaining to altruism it can be argued altruism simply acts in the interest of the actor not solely the recipient.

In kin selection the actor is behaving to increase the fitness of its kin by decreasing its own fitness, however it can be argued that the actor is acting selfishly to increase his own genetic heritability. It would be smart to sacrifice myself to save 4 brothers and sisters or ten cousins, thereby increasing a greater amount of genetic fitness embedded in our relatives. Moreover, the acts of altruism are associated only within kin selective communities fundamentally assuming every costly action benefiting a group member will in fact still benefit the actor’s genotypic construction and ultimately fitness.Although kin selection poses a relationship where the actor engaging to benefit another while accepting costly sacrifices, the actor also maintains motives to increase his own genetic survival.

In spite of this, kin selection is not a supporter of true altruism. Ordinarily if true altruism were to exist in nature this would profoundly require only the interests of the recipient, rather than an individuals own. However, kin selection theory explains altruistic behavior as a strategy devised by selfish genes, increasing the reproductive success of the recipient. Yet, the genes of the benefiting member from the act of altruism are indirectly benefiting the genetic survival of the actor.

Reciprocal altruism theory also seems to contradict the idea of behaving selfless, when the actor is expecting the behavior in return this is merely delayed selfishness. Although, interestingly enough altruistic traits may attribute at a group level, however this will still drive individual selfishness an individual acting selfishly will still benefit at a higher level than those altruistically taking costs, and in turn will reintroduce the selfish behavior back into the population. So does altruism exist in nature? Yes there are forms of altruistic behavior were individuals will help others improve their fitness will succumbing to costs of their own, however these acts are not done selflessly. Therefore, true altruism does not exist in nature.

True altruism are acts that do not require benefits back toward the actor, instead only choose to behave supportively with no gains, and this does not exist in nature.


Watch the video: Mating behavior and inclusive fitness. Individuals and Society. MCAT. Khan Academy (July 2022).


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