Altruism via kin-selection strategies that rely on arbitrary tags with which they coevolve

Evolution. 2004 Aug;58(8):1833-8. doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2004.tb00465.x.


Hamilton's rule explains when natural selection will favor altruism between conspecifics, given their degree of relatedness. In practice, indicators of relatedness (such as scent) coevolve with strategies based on these indicators, a fact not included in previous theories of kin recognition. Using a combination of simulation modeling and mathematical extension of Hamilton's rule, we demonstrate how altruism can emerge and be sustained in a coevolutionary setting where relatedness depends on an individual's social environment and varies from one locus to another. The results support a very general expectation of widespread, and not necessarily weak, conditional altruism in nature.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Altruism*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Social Environment