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Evolution of discrimination in populations at equilibrium between selfishness and altruism

Sibly, R. M. and Curnow, R. N. (2012) Evolution of discrimination in populations at equilibrium between selfishness and altruism. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 313. pp. 162-171. ISSN 0022-5193

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2012.08.014


Where there is genetically based variation in selfishness and altruism, as in man, altruists with an innate ability to recognise and thereby only help their altruistic relatives may evolve. Here we use diploid population genetic models to chart the evolution of genetically-based discrimination in populations initially in stable equilibrium between altruism and selfishness. The initial stable equilibria occur because help is assumed subject to diminishing returns. Similar results were obtained whether we used a model with two independently inherited loci, one controlling altruism the other discrimination, or a one locus model with three alleles. The latter is the opposite extreme to the first model, and can be thought of as involving complete linkage between two loci on the same chromosome. The introduction of discrimination reduced the benefits obtained by selfish individuals, more so as the number of discriminators increased, and selfishness was eventually eliminated in some cases. In others selfishness persisted and the evolutionary outcome was a stable equilibrium involving selfish individuals and both discriminating and non-discriminating altruists. Heritable variation in selfishness, altruism and discrimination is predicted to be particularly evident among full sibs. The suggested coexistence of these three genetic dispositions could explain widespread interest within human social groups as to who will and who will not help others. These predictions merit experimental and observational investigation by primatologists, anthropologists and psychologists. Keywords: Population genetics, Diploid, Heritability, Prosocial, Behaviour genetics

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:30710
Uncontrolled Keywords:Population genetics; Diploid; Heritability; Prosocial; Behaviour genetics

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