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In defence of inclusive fitness theory

Nature volume 471, pages E8E9 (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

Arguably the defining characteristic of the scientific process is its capacity for self-criticism and correction1. Nowak et al.2 challenge proposed connections between relatedness and the evolution of eusociality3, suggest instead that defensible nests and “spring-loaded” traits are key, and present alternative modelling approaches. They then dismiss the utility of Hamilton’s insight that relatedness has a profound evolutionary effect3, formalized in his widely accepted inclusive fitness theory as Hamilton’s rule (“Rise and fall of inclusive fitness theory”). However, we believe that Nowak et al.2 fail to make their case for logical, theoretical and empirical reasons.

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  1. *Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 0843-03092, Balboa, Republic of Panama; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, MRC 0580-06, unit 9100 Box 0948, DPO AA 34002-9998, USA

    • Edward Allen Herre
    •  & William T. Wcislo


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Both authors contributed extensively to all aspects of this work.

Competing interests

Competing financial interests: declared none.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Edward Allen Herre.

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