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Altruism in Mendelian Populations Derived from Sibling Groups: The Haystack Model Revisited

David Sloan Wilson
Evolution
Vol. 41, No. 5 (Sep., 1987), pp. 1059-1070
DOI: 10.2307/2409191
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409191
Page Count: 12
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Altruism in Mendelian Populations Derived from Sibling Groups: The Haystack Model Revisited
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Abstract

A group-selection model is presented in which each group is initiated by a single fertilized female and persists for several generations before dispersal. Maynard Smith (1964) concluded that altruism could not plausibly evolve under these circumstances. I show that his conclusion is an artifact of a simplifying assumption that amounts to a worst-case scenario for group selection. When the standard donor-recipient equations for altruistic behavior are used in Maynard Smith's model, Mendelian populations derived from sibling groups are often more favorable for the evolution of altruism than are the sibling groups themselves. In general, long-term and large-scale aspects of population structure may at times be important in the evolution of altruistic and other group-advantageous behaviors.

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