Group selection and kin selection: formally equivalent approaches

Trends in Ecology & Evolution
James A R Marshall


Inclusive fitness theory, summarised in Hamilton's rule, is a dominant explanation for the evolution of social behaviour. A parallel thread of evolutionary theory holds that selection between groups is also a candidate explanation for social evolution. The mathematical equivalence of these two approaches has long been known. Several recent papers, however, have objected that inclusive fitness theory is unable to deal with strong selection or with non-additive fitness effects, and concluded that the group selection framework is more general, or even that the two are not equivalent after all. Yet, these same problems have already been identified and resolved in the literature. Here, I survey these contemporary objections, and examine them in the light of current understanding of inclusive fitness theory.


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