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J Evol Biol. 2008 Sep;21(5):1175-88. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2008.01550.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28.

The joint effects of kin, multilevel selection and indirect genetic effects on response to genetic selection.

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Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Kin and levels-of-selection models are common approaches for modelling social evolution. Indirect genetic effect (IGE) models represent a different approach, specifying social effects on trait values rather than fitness. We investigate the joint effect of relatedness, multilevel selection and IGEs on response to selection. We present a measure for the degree of multilevel selection, which is the natural partner of relatedness in expressions for response. Response depends on both relatedness and the degree of multilevel selection, rather than only one or the other factor. Moreover, response is symmetric in relatedness and the degree of multilevel selection, indicating that both factors have exactly the same effect. Without IGEs, the key parameter is the product of relatedness and the degree of multilevel selection. With IGEs, however, multilevel selection without relatedness can explain evolution of social traits. Thus, next to relatedness and multilevel selection, IGEs are a key element in the genetical theory of social evolution.

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