New Theory

  • The major types of social selection can be divided into kin selection, kith selection with non-relatives, and kind selection involving interaction and frequency dependence. (Queller 2011).
  • The organism is a fundamental unit of life, and it is a social entity that can be defined by its high cooperation and low conflict among parts (Queller and Strassmann 2009; Strassmann and Queller 2010).
  • Social insects, especially the haplodiploid Hymenoptera, are predicted to have extensive conflicts that could involve genomic imprinting (Queller 2003, Queller and Strassmann 2002).
  • The evolutionary transitions to multicellularity and to eusociality have some important similarities and differences (Queller 2000, Queller and Strassmann 2010).
  • Fisher’s constraint that males and females contribute equally to future generations provides a common currency that clarifies long-standing disputes over which sex should provide parental care (Queller 2007).
  • An important advantage selecting for eusociality is that overlap of adult lifetimes improves survival of young with long periods of dependency (Queller 1989, 1994, 1996, Strassmann and Queller 1989).
  • Population viscosity can increase both relatedness and competition among neighbors, so effects on selection for sociality can be complex (Queller 1992, 1994).
  • Genetic relatedness can be estimated using molecular markers (Queller and Goodnight 1989, Reeve et al. 1992, Goodnight and Queller 1999).
  • Hamilton’s rule is very simple to derive, and very general (Queller 1992).
  • Inclusive fitness and group selection models are extremely similar, provided they are compared under the same rules (Queller 1992).
  • The endosperm and gametophyte nutritive tissues in plants have their own independent kin selected interests, leading to complex cooperation and conflict in developing seeds (Queller 1983, 1984, 1989).
  • Relatedness coefficients can represent reciprocity as well as kinship, while synergistic or frequency–dependent effects may require a different kind of coefficient (Queller 1984, 1985).

More detail on selected topics:

  • Kin, kith, and kind.   Among the advantages of inclusive fitness theory are that it points to causes of selection, direct and indirect, and its simplicity, achieved by separating population structure from selection.  These advantages can be extended to indirect effects mediated though non-relatives (mutualism), which I call kith selection, and to effects that require the joint action of multiple individuals, which I call kind selection. (See Queller 2011, building on Queller 1984, 1985, 1992a, 1992b).
  • Organismality.  The individual organism is perhaps the most fundamental unit of life.  All organisms originated from groups of simpler units that now show high cooperation among the parts and are nearly free of conflicts. We suggest that this near-unanimous cooperation should be taken as the defining trait of organisms.  It captures the essence of what it is to be an organism, and it focuses attention on the problems of how different levels of organism evolve this high degree of cooperation
  • Life insurance and eusociality.   Some social insects, notably the ants, bees, and wasps, have young that have long periods of dependence on adult care.  If the adult care-giver dies, its dependent offspring die and the investments in them are wasted. Adults that raise young together reduce the odds such wasted investment.   Other social insects gain advantages from fortress defense, and the two syndromes differ in many ways.
  • Estimating relatedness.  Genetic relatedness is one of the most important parameters in social evolution, and it can be easily estimated using data from genetic markers.  In essence, it measures how similar two (or more) individuals are beyond the similarity expected of  random members of the same population.  Likelihood methods are also useful for testing specific  hypotheses about kinship. (See Queller and Goodnight 1989, Reeve et al. 1992, Goodnight and Queller 1999).