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Nature. 2010 Aug 19;466(7309):969-72. doi: 10.1038/nature09335.

Promiscuity and the evolutionary transition to complex societies.

Author information

1
Edward Grey Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.

Abstract

Theory predicts that the evolution of cooperative behaviour is favoured by low levels of promiscuity leading to high within-group relatedness. However, in vertebrates, cooperation often occurs between non-relatives and promiscuity rates are among the highest recorded. Here we resolve this apparent inconsistency with a phylogenetic analysis of 267 bird species, demonstrating that cooperative breeding is associated with low promiscuity; that in cooperative species, helping is more common when promiscuity is low; and that intermediate levels of promiscuity favour kin discrimination. Overall, these results suggest that promiscuity is a unifying feature across taxa in explaining transitions to and from cooperative societies.

PMID:
20725039
DOI:
10.1038/nature09335
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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