Alternative formulations of multilevel selection

  title={Alternative formulations of multilevel selection},
  author={John E. Damuth and I. Lorraine Heisler},
  journal={Biology and Philosophy},
Hierarchical expansions of the theory of natural selection exist in two distinct bodies of thought in evolutionary biology, the group selection and the species selection traditions. Both traditions share the point of view that the principles of natural selection apply at levels of biological organization above the level of the individual organism. This leads them both to considermultilevel selection situations, where selection is occurring simultaneously at more than one level. Impeding… 

The genetical theory of multilevel selection

  • A. Gardner
  • Psychology
    Journal of evolutionary biology
  • 2015
It is shown that taking a genetical approach facilitates a decomposition of group‐level traits – including reproductive success – into the separate contributions made by each constituent individual, even in the context of so‐called emergence.

The evolution of individuality revisited

How a lower‐level, bottom‐up evolutionary framework can be used to understand biological complexity involved in the origin of cellular life, early eukaryotic evolution, sexual life cycles and multicellular development is demonstrated.

The cultural evolution of emergent group-level traits

The emergence and evolution of group-level traits and the implications for the theory of cultural evolution are discussed, including ramifications for the evolution of human cooperation, technology, and cultural institutions, and for the equivalency of multilevel selection and inclusive fitness approaches.

Individuality and adaptation across levels of selection: how shall we name and generalize the unit of Darwinism?

  • S. GouldE. Lloyd
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1999
It is shown here that different features define Darwinian individuality across scales of size and time, and that species-individuals may develop few emergent features as direct adaptations.

How to measure group selection in real-world populations

Here, the presence of a Simpson’s Paradox is illustrated in a simple individual-based model of bacterial biofilm growth and various complicating factors in moving from theory to practice of measuring group selection are discussed.

Analysis of an experimental transition in individuality challenges the need to assign traits to levels

It is argued that traits should not be assigned a priori to a hierarchical level, but may respond to selection at different levels depending on environmental conditions, as illustrated by an experiment in which groups of the bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens reproduced via life cycles involving soma- and germline-like phases.

Precis of 'Evolution and the Levels of Selection'

The ‘levels of selection’ question is one of the most fundamental in evolutionary biology, for it arises directly from the logic of Darwinism, and there exist numerous biological phenomena which suggest that it has actually occurred.

Kin Selection, Group Selection, and the Varieties of Population Structure

  • Jonathan Birch
  • Mathematics
    The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
  • 2020
Various results show the ‘formal equivalence’ of kin and group selectionist methodologies, but this does not preclude there being a real and useful distinction between kin and group selection

Models of the major evolutionary transitions

The potential for a reproductive parasite to transition towards mutualism, laying the foundation for an egalitarian transition between species is investigated, and it is found that population structure is key to this transition.



The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection: A Hierarchical Expansion

It is asserted that the development of a unified theory of evolution demands the recognition and incorporation of hierarchical structure as a conceptual foundation through extensions of Price's formula.

A Critical Review of the Models of Group Selection

  • M. Wade
  • Biology
    The Quarterly Review of Biology
  • 1978
It is shown that the models have a number of assumptions in common which are inherently unfavorable to the operation of group selection, and alternative assumptions derived from the empirical results are suggested and discussed in the hope that they will stimulate further theoretical and empirical study of this controversial subject.

A Method for Analyzing Selection in Hierarchically Structured Populations

Individual fitness depends on the particular ecological, genetic, and social contexts in which organisms are found. Variation in individual context among subunits of a population thus raises


The principle of natural selection as the motive force for evolution was framed by Darwin in terms of a "struggle for existence" on the part of organisms living in a finite and risky environment. The


  • J. Damuth
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1985
This formulation of higher‐level selection reveals a congruence with processes at the lower, organism‐based level and suggests the most profitable direction to be taken in attempts at formal extension of selection theory.

The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus

The Nature of Selection presents a powerful analysis of the evolutionary concepts of natural selection, fitness, and adaptation and provides a straightforward and self-contained introduction to philosophical and biological problems in evolutionary theory.

Individuals, hierarchies and processes: towards a more complete evolutionary theory

It is urged that interlevel causation should feature centrally in explanatory hypotheses of evolution, and upward causation from genome dynamics to the directed introduction of mutants may be more important in a given case.

Soft Selection, Hard Selection, Kin Selection, and Group Selection

  • M. Wade
  • Biology
    The American Naturalist
  • 1985
In this paper I illustrate the theoretical relationship among several different models of selection in structured populations, soft selection, hard selection, kin selection, and group selection, by

Individuality and Selection

Evolutionary theory is currently undergoing a period of rapid development, but in the process several problems have cropped up that are proving to be infuriatingly difficult to resolve-e.g. the

Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?

A new and general evolutionary theory will embody this notion of hierarchy and stress a variety of themes either ignored or explicitly rejected by the modern synthesis: punctuational change at all levels, important non-adaptive change atAll levels, control of evolution not only by selection, but equally by constraints of history, development and architecture—thus restoring to evolutionary theory a concept of organism.