Reviving the superorganism.

  title={Reviving the superorganism.},
  author={David Sloane Wilson and Elliott Sober},
  journal={Journal of theoretical biology},
  volume={136 3},

Superorganisms of the Protist Kingdom: A New Level of Biological Organization

The concept of superorganism has a mixed reputation in biology—for some it is a convenient way of discussing supra-organismal levels of organization, and for others, little more than a poetic

Revising the Superorganism: An Organizational Approach to Complex Eusociality

It is argued that an inter-identity (namely the superorganism) emerges at the collective level in complex eusocial colonies, such as honey bees, due to the hierarchically organized network of interactions within the colony.

Beyond society: the evolution of organismality

This survey suggests that many of the traits commonly used to define organisms are not essential, including physical contiguity, indivisibility, clonality or high relatedness, development from a single cell, short-term and long-term genetic cotransmission, germ–soma separation and membership in the same species.

Are ant supercolonies crucibles of a new major transition in evolution?

A novel analysis of the evolutionary status of supercolonies is offered and how certain key conditions might be satisfied in any future process transforming these collaborative networks into true Darwinian individuals is shown.

The Evolution of Ecosystem Phenotypes

The property-based account of ecosystemic ENS can help understand evolution at other biological levels, such as early life evolution and holobionts, and is illustrated with a hypothetical example of local ecosystems that vary in terms of stability, productivity, diversity, and complementarity between species.

Capturing the superorganism: a formal theory of group adaptation

This work provides the first formal theory of group adaptation and captures the superorganism in the form of a ‘group as maximizing agent’ analogy that links an optimization program to a model of a group‐structured population.

Biological species is the only possible form of existence for higher organisms: the evolutionary meaning of sexual reproduction

A consistent holistic view of sexual species as the highest form of biological existence is presented and it is substantiated that the main advantage of sex is the opposite: the ability to counteract not only extinction but further evolution as well.

Thinking outside the Embryo: The Superorganism as a Model for EvoDevo Studies

The study of social insect systems can help bridge the considerable gaps in EvoDevo’s current approach because social insect colonies span the fine line between simple associations of “unitary” organisms and full-fledged “superorganisms,” these systems help elucidate what kinds of processes fundamentally characterize developmental systems and their evolution.



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


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

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.

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.

Structured Demes and the Evolution of Group-Advantageous Traits

  • D. Wilson
  • Psychology
    The American Naturalist
  • 1977
Models are presented for warning cries and other donor-recipient relations, resource notification, the evolution of prudence in exploitation and interference competition, and the effect of differential trait-group extinction.

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.

Caste and ecology in the social insects.

In this pathbreaking and far-reaching work George Oster and Edward Wilson provide the first fully developed theory of caste evolution among the social insects and construct a series of mathematical models to characterize the agents of natural selection that promote particular caste systems.

Haploidploidy and the evolution of the social insect.

Evidence is presented from 20 species that the ratio of investment in monogynous ants is, indeed, about 1 : 3, and this discovery is subject to a series of tests, which provide quantitative evidence in support of kinship theory, sex ratio theory, and the assumption that the offspring is capable of acting counter to its parents' best interests.