Monday, September 29, 2014

interactions and evolution

I've been thinking for a while that it might be possible for a gene that never has a (narrowly construed) positive effect on evolutionary fitness might be (in the long run) beneficial if it imposed a larger evolutionary load on phenotypes that were, in the long-run, kind of in trouble anyway, by hastening to get them out of the way. I still haven't actually put together a solid model that would make this compelling, but I've just discovered Wynne-Edwards, who at least suggested that individual organisms might sacrifice their own survival to benefit a group, especially a kin group; he was building off of work by a guy named Kalela who wrote about voles or shrews suppressing their own fertility when the group was running against the local ecosystem's carrying capacity. At least as I understand it from a second-hand telling by E.O. Wilson.

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