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J Evol Biol. 2010 Jan;23(1):194-206. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01895.x. Epub 2009 Nov 26.

Fisher's fundamental theorem of inclusive fitness and the change in fitness due to natural selection when conspecifics interact.

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


Competition and cooperation is fundamental to evolution by natural selection, both in animals and plants. Here, I investigate the consequences of such interactions for response in fitness due to natural selection. I provide quantitative genetic expressions for heritable variance and response in fitness due to natural selection when conspecifics interact. Results show that interactions among conspecifics generate extra heritable variance in fitness, and that interacting with kin is the key to evolutionary success because it translates the extra heritable variance into response in fitness. This work also unifies Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection (FTNS) and Hamilton's inclusive fitness (IF). The FTNS implies that natural selection maximizes fitness, whereas Hamilton proposed maximization of IF. This work shows that the FTNS describes the increase in IF, rather than direct fitness, at a rate equal to the additive genetic variance in fitness. Thus, Hamilton's IF and Fisher's FTNS both describe the maximization of IF.

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