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Inclusive fitness in evolution

Nature volume 471, pages E6E8 (24 March 2011) | Download Citation


Arising from M. A. Nowak, C. E. Tarnita & E. O. Wilson Nature 466, 1057–1062 (2010)10.1038/nature09205; Nowak et al. reply

For over fifty years, the evolution of social behaviour has been guided by the concept of inclusive fitness as a measure of evolutionary success. Nowak et al.1 argue that inclusive fitness should be abandoned. In so doing, however, they misrepresent the role that inclusive fitness has played in the theory of social evolution by which understanding social behaviour in a variety of disciplines has developed and flourished. By discarding inclusive fitness on the basis of its limitations, they create a conceptual tension which, we argue, is unnecessary, and potentially dangerous for evolutionary biology.

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  1. *Laboratoire Ecologie & Evolution, CNRS UMR 7625, Ecole Normale Superieure, 46 rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris, France

    • Regis Ferriere
  2. †Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA

    • Regis Ferriere
    •  & Richard E. Michod


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R.F. and R.E.M. conceived the study. R.F. analysed the model and prepared the figures. R.F. and R.E.M. wrote the paper.

Competing interests

Competing financial interests: declared none.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Regis Ferriere.

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