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Interspecific Defence Aggregations: a Model for the Evolution of Sociality and Kin Selection

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

The paper puts forward a model for the evolution of sociality and kin selection based on interspecific aggregation as a response to spatially restricted resources and predation. The presence of a gene which regulates inter-individual distance, termed "irritability" ("ir") is proposed and the model shows that individuals with a "non-irritable" ("nir") genotype, through association with conspecifics and other species, will tend to form groups with a higher survival rate of individuals. Mixed species groups will have lower costs to individuals than monospecific ones since competition is not for all resources, usually only one. Benefits in predation avoidance, however, would be equal to those of monospecific groups of the same size and may exceed them, if one of the associating species has an effective anti-predator mechanism which can be exploited by others. "Nir's" will have a greater chance of interbreeding through spatial proximity and mate selection mechanisms and their offspring will also have a higher chance of survival by remaining within the aggregation rather than dispersing. Cultural transmission from parent to offspring of which aggregations are "successful" is postulated as playing a role in perpetuating certain aggregation types. This system is suggested as forming a basis on which processes such as kin selection and altruism could evolve.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Zoology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, R. S. Africa


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