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J Theor Biol. 2003 Jan 7;220(1):67-74.

The evolution of group-beneficial traits in the absence of between-group selection.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40208, USA. lee.dugatkin@louisville.edu

Abstract

One specific prediction emerging from trait-group models of natural selection is that when individuals possess traits that benefit other group members, natural selection will favor "cheating" (i.e. not possessing the group-beneficial trait) within groups. Cheating is selected within groups because it allows individuals to avoid bearing the relative costs typically associated with group-beneficial traits, but to still reap the benefits associated with the acts of other group members. Selection between groups favors traits that benefit other group members. The relative strength of within- and between-group selection then determines the equilibrium frequency of those who produce group-beneficial traits and those that do not. Here we demonstrate that individual-level selection, that is selection within groups can also produce an intermediate frequency of such group-beneficial traits by frequency-dependent selection. The models we develop are general in nature, but were inspired by the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The theory developed here is distinct from prior work that relies on reciprocity or kinship per se to achieve cooperation and altruism among group members.

Copyright 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd.

PMID:
12453451
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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