Identifying the ecological and demographic factors that promote the evolution of cooperation is a major challenge for evolutionary biologists. Explanations for the adaptive evolution of cooperation seek to determine which factors make reproduction in cooperative groups more favourable than independent breeding or other selfish strategies. A vast majority of the hypotheses posit that cooperative groups emerge in the context of philopatry, high costs of dispersal, high population density and environmental stability. This route to cooperation, however, fails to explain a growing body of empirical evidence in which cooperation is not associated with one or more of these predictors. We propose an alternative evolutionary path towards the emergence of cooperation that accounts for the disparities observed in the current literature. We find that when dispersal is mediated by a group mode of dispersal, commonly termed budding dispersal, our mathematical model reveals an association between cooperation and immigration, lower costs of dispersal, low population density and environmental variability. Furthermore, by studying the continuum from the individual to the partial and full budding mode of dispersal, we can explicitly explain why the correlates of cooperation change under budding. This enables us to outline a general model for the evolution of cooperation that accounts for a substantial amount of empirical evidence. Our results suggest that natural selection may have favoured two major contrasting pathways for the evolution of cooperation depending on a set of key ecological and demographic factors.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Journal of Evolutionary Biology|
|Early online date||21 Apr 2018|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jul 2018|
- climate change
- inclusive fitness
- kin selection
- movement ecology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
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- Department of Life Sciences - Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Senior Research Fellow
- Milner Centre for Evolution
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Statistical Applied Mathematics (SAMBa)