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Inclusive fitness in evolution


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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Figure 1: Fitness landscape and Hamilton’s rule.
Figure 2: Co-evolution of altruism and relatedness.


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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.

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Correspondence to Regis Ferriere.

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Competing financial interests: declared none.

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Ferriere, R., Michod, R. Inclusive fitness in evolution. Nature 471, E6–E8 (2011).

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