Natural selection of altruism in inelastic viscous homogeneous populations

Alan Grafen, Marco Archetti

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69 Scopus citations


Biological explanations are given of three main uninterpreted theoretical results on the selection of altruism in inelastic viscous homogeneous populations, namely that non-overlapping generations hinder the evolution of altruism, fecundity effects are more conducive to altruism than survival effects, and one demographic regime (so-called death-birth) permits altruism whereas another (so-called birth-death) does not. The central idea is 'circles of compensation', which measure how far the effects of density dependence extend from a focal individual. Relatednesses can then be calculated that compensate for density dependence. There is very generally a 'balancing circle of compensation', at which the viscosity of the population slows up selection of altruism, but does not affect its direction, and this holds for altruism towards any individual, not just immediate neighbours. These explanations are possible because of recent advances in the theory of inclusive fitness on graphs. The assumption of node bitransitivity in that recent theory is relaxed to node transitivity and symmetry of the dispersal matrix, and new formulae show how to calculate relatedness from dispersal and vice versa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-710
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 21 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


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