Inclusive fitness

Inclusive fitness

There are a few definitions of Inclusive fitness (IF), but one (that, according to Oli, 2003 is not consistent with W. D. Hamilton's first description), is the sum of the direct and indirect fitness effects of an individual's behaviors, where the direct fitness effect is the impact on the individual's fitness, and the indirect fitness effect is the impact on the fitness of its social partners, weighted by the degree of relatedness between the individual and its social partners (Ricklefs & Miller, 2001). When social behaviors enhance or diminish the survival or reproduction of other individuals possessing genes that predispose to the same social behaviors, they affect the organism's indirect fitness. This model is therefore more generalized than kin selection (in the strict sense), which requires that the shared genes are "identical by descent"; as such, the two models are commonly treated as synonymous, because the most common historical context for modeling inclusive fitness is indeed in groups of closely-related organisms.

From the gene's point of view, evolutionary success ultimately depends on leaving behind the maximum number of copies of itself in the population. Until 1964 it was generally believed that genes only achieved this by causing the individual to leave the maximum number of viable offspring possible. However, in 1964 W. D. Hamilton showed that because close relatives of an organism are likely to share more genes in common (not to be confused with "common genes," the opposite of scarce genes), the gene can also increase its evolutionary success by promoting the reproduction and survival of these related individuals. This leads individuals to behave in a manner maximising their inclusive fitness, rather than their individual fitness.

An empirical example of the inclusive fitness principle is provided by the [ Belding ground squirrel] . Here, individuals give alarm calls to warn their group of the presence of a predator. By emitting the alarm, the Belding ground squirrel puts itself in increased danger by giving away its location. In the process, however, the squirrel protects its relatives that live within the population. In further studies, it has been shown that willingness of the squirrel to put itself at risk is directly proportional to how closely related it is to members of its population. Therefore, if protecting the other squirrels in the immediate area will lead to the passing on of more of the squirrel’s own genes than the squirrel could leave by reproducing on its own, the squirrel is willing to risk sacrificing itself, which leads to greater inclusive fitness.Another good example is that a lapwing will fake injury to distract a hawk from its young. By faking injury, it increases its own vulnerability, but increases the inclusive fitness.

Evidence of inclusive fitness in humans

Human behavior is generally much more complicated than the behavior of other organisms, making it difficult to define human behavior in general organism terms. However, evidence for human altruistic behavior leading to increased inclusive fitness has been observed. While there exists clear evidence towards increased inclusive fitness through altruistic behaviors on behalf of parents and children, much sacrificial behavior by humans is generally done in the hope of reciprocation at some point in the future. Therefore, increasing inclusive fitness in humans is not necessarily dependent upon relatedness. Rather, it is commonly based on reciprocal altruism.

Inclusive fitness in the family structure

Inclusive fitness may also be applied to the familial structure. Parents are frequently self-sacrificing towards their children with the hope that children will carry on the family genes. Frequently, the amount of altruistic behavior displayed by parents to increase their inclusive fitness is related to the amount of parental investment initially involved.

It is common for some people to express concern when parental investment (parental care) is said to contribute to inclusive fitness. This concern exemplifies the surprisingly large degree of confusion and obfuscation over such a profound and fundamental concept as IF. The distinctions between, kind of beneficiaries nurtured (collateral versus descendant relatives), and, kind of fitnesses used in our parsing events in nature to understand the goings on, are orthogonal concepts. This orthogonality, can best be understood in a thought experiment in which we consider a model of a population of animals such as tangle web spiders or crocodiles in which a gene, called a, codes for parental care, and its other allele, called A, codes for an absence thereof, thus aa homozygotes care for their young, and AA homozygotes don't, and the heterozygotes behave like aa homozygotes if a is dominant, and like AA homozygotes if A is dominant, or exhibit some kind of intermediate behaviour if there is partial dominance. Among these spiders and reptiles, some species or populations exhibit parental care, while closely-related species or populations lack it, so this is somewhat reasonable. However, other kinds of animals could be considered in which all individuals exhibit parental care, but variation among them would be in the quantity and quality thereof.

If we parse nature such that life begins at conception, then, other things being equal, the only differences between how well different individuals fare will be based on how much care they got as pre-weaned babies, because all mothers will conceive the same number of kids, but some will take care of them, or care for them better, and thus more of them will live, but the differences in mortality will count as part of the offsprings' fitnesses. Thus the variations in fitness among the animals will be part of their L(x) curves.

But if we parse nature such that life begins at weaning, and the pre-weaned offspring is part of the mother until weaned, sort of like a fetus, then the number of offspring weaned successfully, will be sort of a littersize, and the variations in success among individuals will be considered part of the mother's M(x) curve.

L(x) is the probability of still being alive at age = x, and M(x) is fecundity at age x.

These are just two ways of keeping track of the bookkeeping, and the animals are exactly the same regardless how we keep track of them.

However, if we regard life as beginning at weaning, the heterozygote will have the same fitness as the homozygote with the dominant gene, and fitness will be a constant function of genotype. If life begins at conception, the 3 kinds of genotyped individuals will have different fitnesses, not only from each other but from generation to generation.

Fitnesses calculated in the life-begins-at-conception world will be examples of "personal fitnesses" or reproductive successes, whereas fitnesses calculated in the life-begins-at-weaning world will be examples of "inclusive fitnesses."

Both kinds of fitnesses can be used to parse reality in models or real populations with or without altruism toward collateral relatives. An older kind of fitness, called "classical fitness", doesn't consider social interactions at all. Altruistically-reared offspring aren't counted here as incrementing the fitness of the altruist or the beneficiary, but classical fitness, is simply, a carryover from earlier days when thought didn't go this deep in this direction.

This understanding is identical to that of W. D. Hamilton, whose philosophy is embodied in this discussion and terminology.

As enunciated by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, with personal fitness, the increments of fitness are counted with the bearers, and with inclusive fitness they are counted with the carers.

The mathematics simply becomes easier to use inclusive fitnesses, when studying model or real populations in which altruism toward collateral relatives is common or present, but the use of an inclusive fitness approach doesn't ipso facto imply collateral altruism is occurring, nor the use of personal fitnesses imply it isn't.

The size of the increment is always one in a personal-fitnesses parsing, but some fraction less than one during an inclusive-fitness parsing.

Because first cousins are related by approximately 1/8 on average, raising one kid for your first cousin automatically increments your inclusive fitness by 1/8, but has a probability of 1/8 of incrementing your personal fitness by 1. This is because the probability is 1/8 your cousin will rear a child of yours, for you, if you rear one for one of your cousins.

There are complicating factors. One is that the relatedness coeeficient will rarely be exactly 1/8. Another is that there are two kinds of inclusive fitness, "corrected" and "uncorrected," explained in the reference below (Orlove 1979).

This is because a cousin, for example, has some copies of one's own genes in the manner that an offspring does, although not as many of them.

Corrected and uncorrected inclusive fitness, along with other concepts, are verbally explained, however in: [ Stories with Bill Hamilton in them] . (This account was written in the spirit of the Pliny the Younger letter to Tacitus when he said "You will use the important bits, for it is one thing to write a letter, another to write history, one thing to write to a friend, another to write for the public. Farewell." [ Eyewitness Account of the Disaster at Pompeii] . And it wasn't expected to be published verbatim in an anthology, so you will have to read around the typos.)

You can also find simulations to test these thoughts at the website, and download the package with the simulations: [] , and to decompress the source code should you ever wish to read it, using: []

These probabilities of reciprocity will be coefficients of relatedness in species where there is only altruism toward relatives, but when strangers are involved they can be estimates of reciprocation, which depend on being, as if, more closely related than average at the altruism influencing portions of the genome, based on past behaviour, in a stranger. Again whether personal- or inclusive fitness approaches are used affects the observees, not a jot, but the observer's comprehension a great deal.

If any of this seems weird or counter-intuitive, you might want to take a look at a less involved at-first-counterintuitive mathematical problem called the Monty Hall problem.

Some people would consider IF fundamentally important, which it is, but it might be claimed that the ultimate test for whether someone is a true mutualist or not, i.e., a true friend, would be based on whether they were increasing your inclusive fitness or not. Others might say it is based on whether they are increasing your personal fitness. Sometimes increasing one would decrease the other, but advocates for these ideas would say someone was purloining you if they were decreasing your fitness. Some would argue it doesn't matter which kind of fitness they choose to increase, as long as it is one of them and consistent. Many would argue that such a value system should not be based on fitness at all. This line of thought leads to many other, more sophisticated conundrums.

Another spin-off of IF Theory is parent-offspring conflict as discovered by Robert L. Trivers 1974 and popularised and reviewed by Dawkins in The Selfish Gene.

Basically, a parent is trying to maximise its number of grandchildren, but one of its offspring would give up the chance to have "n" children only if the benefit to one of its siblings for doing so provided more than 2n nieces or nephews. Thus, Trivers hypothesised that when the benefit-to-cost ratio is between 2 and 1 there is a parent-offspring conflict: The parent will want an offspring who is less effective at producing children to become a helper for another who is more effective, but the offspring will selfishly want to devote its resources to raising its own children.

Trivers' theory predicts that, for example, if the parent can't be around forever to coerce an offspring into being a worker, aka a helper, at a sibling's nest, then the parent needs to get its expected benefit-to-cost ratio higher than 2 by creating a situation in which the offspring will be stimulated to be a voluntary worker.

One outcome of this process is that since increasing the productivity of the more productive child is impractical (and unlikely to be selected for), the parents' best bet is to lower the reproductive capability of the offspring, without harming its somatic skills, such as walking or finding food.

Trivers argues that if Sigmund Freud had lived after 1964, he would have explained intra-family conflict, and castration complex as resulting from resource-sharing issues and economics rather than sexual or incestuous jealousy.

ee also

* Gene-centered view of evolution
* Kin selection
* Reproductive success



* Campbell, N., Reece, J., et al. 2002. Biology. 6th ed. San Francisco, California. pp. 1145-1148.
* Rheingold, Howard, “Technologies of cooperation” in Smart Mobs. Cambridge, MA : Perseus Publishing, 2002 (Ch. 2:pp 29-61)
* Dawkins, Richard C. 1976 The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press (Discussion of carers and bearers in relation to inclusive and personal fitnesses, and the bugbear of parental investment as part of inclusive fitness occurs herein)
* Hamilton, W. D. 1964 The Genetical Evolution of Social Behaviour I and II, J. Theor. Biol. v7, pp 1-16, and 17-52
* Hamilton, W. D. 1975, Innate Social Aptitudes of Man: an Approach from Evolutionary Genetics, in Robin Fox (ed.), Biosocial Anthropology, Malaby Press, London, 133-153 (IF including altruism to fellow altruists among strangers discussed herein)
* Hamilton, W. D. Narrow Roads of Geneland I and II, 1995 Freeman I 2001 Oxford Press II (biography of WDH and anthology of his writings)
* Orlove, M. J. 1975 A Model of Kin Selection not Invoking Coefficients of Relationship J. Theor. Biol. v49 pp289-310 (Isomorphism between Karma and Kin Theories discussed herein)
* Orlove, M. J. 1979 A Reconciliation of Inclusive Fitness and Personal Fitness Approaches: a Proposed Correcting Term for the Inclusive Fitness Formula, J. Theor. Biol. v81 pp577-586 (Karma-Theory/Kin-Theory equivalence moves from conjecture to theorem status here)
* Trivers, R. L. 1971 The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism, Quarterly Review of Biology 46: 35-57
* Trivers, R. L. 1972 Parental Investment and Sexual Selection in B. Campbell (ed.), Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man, 1871-1971 (pp. 136-179) Chicago, Il: Aldine
* Trivers, R. L. 1974 Parent/Offspring Conflict, American Zoologist, 14 249-264 (Bigtime importance of If in understanding intra-family conflict)
* Sherman, P.W. 2001. “Squirrels” (pp. 598-609, with L. Wauters) and “The Role of Kinship” (pp. 610-611) in Encyclopedia of Mammals, D.W. Macdonald (Ed.). Andromeda, UK.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • inclusive fitness — Biol. the fitness of an individual organism as measured in terms of the survival and reproductive success of its kin, each relative being valued according to the probability of shared genetic information, an offspring or sibling having a value of …   Universalium

  • inclusive fitness — Biol. the fitness of an individual organism as measured in terms of the survival and reproductive success of its kin, each relative being valued according to the probability of shared genetic information, an offspring or sibling having a value of …   Useful english dictionary

  • inclusive fitness — noun Genetics the ability of an individual organism to pass on its genes to the next generation, taking into account the shared genes passed on by the organism s close relatives …   English new terms dictionary

  • Fitness (biology) — Fitness (often denoted w in population genetics models) is a central idea in evolutionary theory. It can be defined either with respect to a genotype or to a phenotype. In either case, it describes the ability to both survive and reproduce, and… …   Wikipedia

  • Valeur sélective inclusive — En biologie évolutive et en psychologie évolutionniste, la valeur sélective inclusive (inclusive fitness en anglais) est la somme des valeurs sélectives classiques d un organisme (le nombre de ses propres enfants qu elle prend en charge et le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Приспособление в широком смысле — (inclusive fitness). Концепция, считающая, что выживание сильнейшего в процессе эволюции происходит при помощи как прямого, так и опосредованного приспособления, когда адаптивные характеристики передаются следующему поколению, а также имеет… …   Психология развития. Словарь по книге

  • Darwinian anthropology — describes an approach to anthropological analysis which employs various theories from darwinian evolutionary biology. Whilst there are a number of areas of research that can come under this broad description (Marks, 2004)[1] some specific… …   Wikipedia

  • Evolutionary psychology — (EP) attempts to explain mental and psychological traits such as memory, perception, or language as adaptations, that is, as the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection. Adaptationist thinking about physiological mechanisms,… …   Wikipedia

  • Kin selection — From the time of antiquity field biologists have observed that some organisms tend to exhibit strategies that favor the reproductive success of their relatives, even at a cost to their own survival and/or reproduction. The classic example is a… …   Wikipedia

  • Kinship — For other uses, see Kinship (disambiguation). Relationships …   Wikipedia

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.