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Can Selfish Symbioses Effect Higher-level Selection?

Can Selfish Symbioses Effect Higher-level Selection?
Can Selfish Symbioses Effect Higher-level Selection?
The role of symbiosis in macro-evolution is poorly understood. On the one hand, symbiosis seems to be a perfectly normal manifestation of individual selection, on the other hand, in some of the major transitions in evolution it seems to be implicated in the creation of new higher-level units of selection. Here we present a model of individual selection for symbiotic relationships where individuals can genetically specify traits which partially control which other species they associate with – i.e. they can evolve species-specific grouping. We find that when the genetic evolution of symbiotic relationships occurs slowly compared to ecological population dynamics, symbioses form which canalise the combinations of species that commonly occur at local ESSs into new units of selection. Thus even though symbioses will only evolve if they are beneficial to the individual, we find that the symbiotic groups that form are selectively significant and result in combinations of species that are more cooperative than would be possible under individual selection. These findings thus provide a systematic mechanism for creating significant higher-level selective units from individual selection, and support the notion of a significant and systematic role of symbiosis in macro-evolution.
symbiosis, modularity, evolved associations
Watson, Richard
ce199dfc-d5d4-4edf-bd7b-f9e224c96c75
Palmius, Niclas
bd014b58-6ab5-4d02-9251-4a3b77e74022
Mills, Robert
3d53d4bc-e1de-4807-b89b-f5813f2172a7
Powers, Simon T
474bffcd-e5ab-4be0-89fe-b0d0b2bdf2c1
Penn, Alexandra
b0de6ea1-49cc-4b73-a0f5-585b864ee3ca
Kampis, George
01daf559-3d2d-4229-9a71-5437d8c691cf
Szathmáry, Erös
684b367e-0943-4bef-a49d-878d00d57788
Watson, Richard
ce199dfc-d5d4-4edf-bd7b-f9e224c96c75
Palmius, Niclas
bd014b58-6ab5-4d02-9251-4a3b77e74022
Mills, Robert
3d53d4bc-e1de-4807-b89b-f5813f2172a7
Powers, Simon T
474bffcd-e5ab-4be0-89fe-b0d0b2bdf2c1
Penn, Alexandra
b0de6ea1-49cc-4b73-a0f5-585b864ee3ca
Kampis, George
01daf559-3d2d-4229-9a71-5437d8c691cf
Szathmáry, Erös
684b367e-0943-4bef-a49d-878d00d57788

Watson, Richard, Palmius, Niclas, Mills, Robert, Powers, Simon T and Penn, Alexandra, Kampis, George and Szathmáry, Erös(eds.) (2009) Can Selfish Symbioses Effect Higher-level Selection? Proceedings of 10th European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL 2009)

Record type: Article

Abstract

The role of symbiosis in macro-evolution is poorly understood. On the one hand, symbiosis seems to be a perfectly normal manifestation of individual selection, on the other hand, in some of the major transitions in evolution it seems to be implicated in the creation of new higher-level units of selection. Here we present a model of individual selection for symbiotic relationships where individuals can genetically specify traits which partially control which other species they associate with – i.e. they can evolve species-specific grouping. We find that when the genetic evolution of symbiotic relationships occurs slowly compared to ecological population dynamics, symbioses form which canalise the combinations of species that commonly occur at local ESSs into new units of selection. Thus even though symbioses will only evolve if they are beneficial to the individual, we find that the symbiotic groups that form are selectively significant and result in combinations of species that are more cooperative than would be possible under individual selection. These findings thus provide a systematic mechanism for creating significant higher-level selective units from individual selection, and support the notion of a significant and systematic role of symbiosis in macro-evolution.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: August 2009
Keywords: symbiosis, modularity, evolved associations
Organisations: Agents, Interactions & Complexity, EEE

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 268068
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/268068
PURE UUID: 9e870b93-7972-4d14-b2d9-0b27fb0ed4f0

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Date deposited: 20 Oct 2009 14:22
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 06:57

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Contributors

Author: Richard Watson
Author: Niclas Palmius
Author: Robert Mills
Author: Simon T Powers
Author: Alexandra Penn
Editor: George Kampis
Editor: Erös Szathmáry

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