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J Theor Biol. 2012 Nov 7;312:44-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2012.07.016. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Co-evolution between sociality and dispersal: the role of synergistic cooperative benefits.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, Canada, BC V6T 1Z4; Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Bâtiment Biophore, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. Electronic address: Jessica.Purcell@unil.ch.
2
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, Canada, BC V6T 1Z4; Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Bâtiment Biophore, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
3
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, Canada, BC V6T 1Z4.

Abstract

Explaining the evolution of sociality is challenging because social individuals face disadvantages that must be balanced by intrinsic benefits of living in a group. One potential route towards the evolution of sociality may emerge from the avoidance of dispersal, which can be risky in some environments. Although early studies found that local competition may cancel the benefits of cooperation in viscous populations, subsequent studies have identified conditions, such as the presence of kin recognition or specific demographic conditions, under which altruism will still spread. Most of these studies assume that the costs of cooperating outweigh the direct benefits (strong altruism). In nature, however, many organisms gain synergistic benefits from group living, which may counterbalance even costly altruistic behaviours. Here, we use an individual based model to investigate how dispersal and social behaviour co-evolve when social behaviours result in synergistic benefits that counterbalance the relative cost of altruism to a greater extent than assumed in previous models. When the cost of cooperation is high, selection for sociality responds strongly to the cost of dispersal. In particular, cooperation can begin to spread in a population when higher cooperation levels become correlated with lower dispersal tendencies within individuals. In contrast, less costly social behaviours are less sensitive to the cost of dispersal. In line with previous studies, we find that mechanisms of global population control also affect this relationship: when whole patches (groups) go extinct each generation, selection favours a relatively high dispersal propensity, and social behaviours evolve only when they are not very costly. If random individuals within groups experience mortality each generation to maintain a global carrying capacity, on the other hand, social behaviours spread and dispersal is reduced, even when the latter is not costly.

KEYWORDS:

Demography; Non-additive effects; Philopatry; Weak altruism

PMID:
22841740
DOI:
10.1016/j.jtbi.2012.07.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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