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Testing Hamilton's rule with competition between relatives

Nature volume 409, pages 510513 (25 January 2001) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Hamilton’s1,2 theory of kin selection suggests that individuals should show less aggression, and more altruism, towards closer kin. Recent theoretical work has, however, suggested that competition between relatives can counteract kin selection for altruism3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11. Unfortunately, factors that tend to increase the average relatedness of interacting individuals—such as limited dispersal—also tend to increase the amount of competition between relatives. Therefore, in most natural systems, the conflicting influences of increased competition and increased relatedness are confounded, limiting attempts to test theory4,8,9,10. Fig wasp taxa exhibit varying levels of aggression among non-dispersing males that show a range of average relatedness levels. Thus, across species, the effects of relatedness and competition between relatives can be separated. Here we report that—contrary to Hamilton's original prediction1,2,12 but in agreement with recent theory5,6,7,8,9,10,11—the level of fighting between males shows no correlation with the estimated relatedness of interacting males, but is negatively correlated with future mating opportunities.

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Acknowledgements

We thank S. Frank, S. Nee, S. Reece and R. Trivers for comments that improved the clarity of our manuscript. This work was supported by the BBSRC, STRI and NERC.

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  1. *Institute of Cell, Animal & Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK

    • Stuart A. West
    • , Martyn G. Murray
    •  & Ashleigh S. Griffin
  2. †Department of Genetics, Rutgers University , Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA

    • Carlos A. Machado
  3. ‡Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute , Apartado 2072, Balboa, Republic of Panama

    • Edward Allen Herre

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Correspondence to Stuart A. West.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/35054057

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