Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 893–911 | Cite as

A levels-of-selection approach to evolutionary individuality

Article

Abstract

What changes when an evolutionary transition in individuality takes place? Many different answers have been given, in respect of different cases of actual transition, but some have suggested a general answer: that a major transition is a change in the extent to which selection acts at one hierarchical level rather than another. The current paper evaluates some different ways to develop this general answer as a way to characterise the property ‘evolutionary individuality’; and offers a justification of the option taken in Clarke (J Philos 110(8):413–435, 2013)—to define evolutionary individuality in terms of an object’s capacity to undergo selection at its own level. In addition, I suggest a method by which the property can be measured and argue that a problem which is often considered to be fatal to that method—the problem of ‘cross-level by-products’—can be avoided.

Keywords

Levels of selection Evolutionary individuality Major transitions 

References

  1. Ågren JA (2014) Evolutionary transitions in individuality: insights from transposable elements. Trends Ecol Evol 29(2):90–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Birch J (Forthcoming) The philosophy of social evolutionGoogle Scholar
  3. Bonner JT (1974) On development: the biology of form. Harvard Uni Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Booth A (2014) Populations and individuals in heterokaryotic fungi: a multilevel perspective. Philos Sci 81(4):612–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bouchard F (2008) Causal processes, fitness, and the differential persistence of lineages. Philos Sci 75(5):560–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouchard F, Huneman P (2013) From groups to individuals: evolution and emerging individuality. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Bourke AF (2011) Principles of social evolution. OUP, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bowles S, Fehr E, Gintis H (2003) Strong reciprocity may evolve with or without group selection. Theor Primatol Proj Newslett 1:12Google Scholar
  9. Buss LW (1987) The evolution of individuality. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  10. Clarke E (In review) How to count organismsGoogle Scholar
  11. Clarke E (2010) The problem of biological individuality. Biol Theory 5(4):312–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clarke E (2012) Plant individuality: a solution to the demographer’s dilemma. Biol Philos 27(3):321–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clarke E (2013) The multiple realizability of biological individuals. J Philos 110(8):413–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clarke E (2014) Origins of evolutionary transitions. J Biosci 39(2):303–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cock JM, Collén J (2015). Independent emergence of complex multicellularity in the brown and red algae. In: Evolutionary transitions to multicellular life. Springer Netherlands, pp 335–361Google Scholar
  16. Damuth J, Heisler IL (1988) Alternative formulations of multilevel selection. Biol Philos 3:407–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dawkins R (1982) The extended phenotype. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  18. De Sousa R (2005) Biological individuality. Croat J Philos 14:195–218Google Scholar
  19. Dupré J, O’Malley MA (2009) Varieties of living things: life at the intersection of lineage and metabolism. Philos Theory Biol 1:1–25Google Scholar
  20. Ereshefsky M, Pedroso M (2015) Rethinking evolutionary individuality. Proc Natl Acad Sci 112(33):10126–10132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fairclough SR (2015) Choanoflagellates: perspective on the origin of animal multicellularity. In: Evolutionary transitions to multicellular life. Springer Netherlands, pp 99–116Google Scholar
  22. Fletcher JA, Doebeli M (2009) A simple and general explanation for the evolution of altruism. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 276(1654):13–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Folse HJ III, Roughgarden J (2010) ‘What is an individual organism? A multilevel perspective. Q Rev Biol 85:447–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Frank SA (1997) Models of symbiosis. Am Nat 150(S1):S80–S99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Frank SA (2012) Natural selection. III. Selection versus transmission and the levels of selection. J Evol Biol 25(2):227–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Friesen ML (2012) Widespread fitness alignment in the legume–rhizobium symbiosis. New Phytol 194(4):1096–1111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gardner A (2015) The genetical theory of multilevel selection. J Evol Biol 28(2):305–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gardner A, Grafen A (2009) Capturing the superorganism: a formal theory of group adaptation. J Evol Biol 22(4):659–671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ghiselin M (1974) A radical solution to the species problem. Syst Biol 23(4):536–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Godfrey-Smith P (2008) Varieties of population structure and the levels of selection. Br J Philos Sci 59(1):25–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Godfrey-Smith P (2009) Darwinian populations and natural selection. OUP, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Goodnight C (2013) On multilevel selection and kin selection: contextual analysis meets direct fitness. Evolution 67(6):1539–1548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goodnight CJ, Schwartz JM, Stevens L (1992) Contextual analysis of models of group selection, soft selection, hard selection, and the evolution of altruism. Am Nat 140:743–761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gould SJ, Lloyd EA (1999) Individuality and adaptation across levels of selection: how shall we name and generalize the unit of Darwinism? Proc Natl Acad Sci 96(21):11904–11909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Guay A, Pradeu T (eds) (2015) Individuals across the sciences. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  36. Haber M (2013) Colonies are individuals: revisiting the superorganism revival. In: From groups to individuals: evolution and emerging individuality, pp 195–217Google Scholar
  37. Harper JL (1977) Plant population biology. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. Heisler IL, Damuth J (1987) A method for analyzing selection in hierarchically structured populations. Am Nat 130(4):582–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Herron MD, Nedelcu AM (2015) Volvocine algae: from simple to complex multicellularity. In: Ruiz-Trillo IR, Nedelcu AM (eds) Evolutionary transitions to multicellular life: principle and mechanisms. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  40. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (2009) The superorganism: the beauty, elegance, and strangeness of insect societies. WW Norton & Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Hull D (1978) A matter of individuality. Philos Sci 45:335–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Janzen DH (1977) What are dandelions and aphids? Am Nat 111(979):586–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Keller L (ed) (1999) Levels of selection in evolution. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  44. Lang D, Rensing SA (2015) The evolution of transcriptional regulation in the Viridiplantae and its correlation with morphological complexity. In: Evolutionary transitions to multicellular life. Springer Netherlands, pp 301–333Google Scholar
  45. Lewontin RC (1970) The units of selection. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 1:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lloyd E (1995) Units and levels of selection. In: Zalta EN (ed) The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2005 Edition). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2005/entries/selection-units/
  47. Macpherson AJ, Harris NL (2004) Interactions between commensal intestinal bacteria and the immune system. Nat Rev Immunol 4:478–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Margulis L (1970) Origin of eukaryotic cells: evidence and research implications for a theory of the origin and evolution of microbial, plant, and animal cells on the Precambrian earth. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  49. Martens J (2010) Organisms in evolution. Hist Philos Life Sci 32(2–3):373–400Google Scholar
  50. Maynard Smith J, Szathmary E (1997) The major transitions in evolution. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  51. McShea DW (2000) Functional complexity in organisms: parts as proxies. Biol Philos 15(5):641–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Michod RE (1999) Darwinian dynamics. Evolutionary transitions in fitness and individuality. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  53. Michod RE (2006) The group covariance effect and fitness trade-offs during evolutionary transitions in individuality. Proc Natl Acad Sci 103(24):9113–9117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Michod RE, Roze D (2001) Cooperation and conflict in the evolution of multicellularity. Heredity 86(1):1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Okasha S (2001) Why won’t the group selection controversy go away? Br J Philos Sci 52(1):25–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Okasha S (2006) Evolution and the levels of selection. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Okasha S (2016) The relation between kin and multilevel selection: an approach using causal graphs. Br J Philos Sci 67(2):435–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pepper JW, Herron MD (2008) Does biology need an organism concept? Biol Rev 83(4):621–627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pradeu T (2010) What is an organism? An immunological answer. Hist Philos Life Sci 32:247–267Google Scholar
  60. Price GR (1970) Selection and covariance. Nature 227:520–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Price GR (1972) Extension of covariance selection mathematics. Ann Hum Genet 35(4):485–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Queller DC (2000) Relatedness and the fraternal major transitions. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 355(1403):1647–1655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Queller DC, Strassmann JE (2009) Beyond society: the evolution of organismality. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 364(1533):3143–3155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ratnieks FL, Visscher PK (1989) Worker policing in the honeybee. Nature 342(6251):796–797CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Reeve HK, Hölldobler B (2007) The emergence of a superorganism through intergroup competition. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104(23):9736–9740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Reeve HK, Keller L (1999) Levels of selection: burying the units-of-selection debate and unearthing the crucial new issues. In: Levels of selection in evolution, pp 3–14Google Scholar
  67. Rong R, Chandley AC, Song J, McBeath S, Tan PP, Bai Q, Speed RM (1988) A fertile mule and hinny in China. Cytogenet Genome Res 47(3):134–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ruiz-Trillo IR, Nedelcu AM (eds) (2015) Evolutionary transitions to multicellular life: principle and mechanisms. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  69. Santelices B (1999) How many kinds of individual are there? Trends Ecol Evol 14(4):152–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Sharpe SC, Eme L, Brown MW, Roger AJ (2015) Timing the origins of multicellular eukaryotes through phylogenomics and relaxed molecular clock analyses. In: Evolutionary transitions to multicellular life. Springer Netherlands, pp 3–29Google Scholar
  71. Shelton DE, Michod RE (2014) Group selection and group adaptation during a major evolutionary transition: insights from the evolution of multicellularity in the volvocine algae. Biol Theory 9(4):452–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sober E (1994) Conceptual issues in evolutionary biology. Mit Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  73. Sober E (2011) Realism, conventionalism, and causal decomposition in units of selection: reflections on Samir Okasha’s evolution and the levels of selection. Philos Phenomenol Res 82(1):221–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Sober E, Wilson DS (1998). Unto others: the evolution and psychology of unselfish behavior. Cembridge (Massachusetts), pp 34–36Google Scholar
  75. Solé RV, Duran-Nebreda S (2015) In silico transitions to multicellularity. In: Evolutionary transitions to multicellular life. Springer Netherlands, pp 245–266Google Scholar
  76. Strassmann JE, Queller DC (2010) The social organism: congresses, parties, and committees. Evolution 64(3):605–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Szathmáry E, Jordán F, Pál C (2001) Can genes explain biological complexity? Science 292(5520):1315–1316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Valentine JW, Marshall CR (2015) Fossil and transcriptomic perspectives on the origins and success of metazoan multicellularity. In: Evolutionary transitions to multicellular life. Springer Netherlands, pp 31–46Google Scholar
  79. West SA, Fisher RM, Gardner A, Kiers ET (2015) Major evolutionary transitions in individuality. Proc Natl Acad Sci 112(33):10112–10119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Williams GC (1966) Adaptation and natural selection. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  81. Wilson DS (1975) A theory of group selection. Proc Natl Acad Sci 72(1):143–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wilson J (1999) Biological individuality: the identity and persistence of living entities. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wilson DS (2010) Darwin’s cathedral: evolution, religion, and the nature of society. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  84. Wilson RA, Barker M (2013) The biological notion of individual. In: Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Stanford University, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  85. Wilson DS, Sober E (1989) Reviving the superorganism. J Theor Biol 136:337–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Wilson DS, Sober E (1994) Reintroducing group selection to the human behavioral sciences. Behav Brain Sci 17(04):585–608CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.All Souls CollegeOxford UniversityOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations