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Why the Definition of Eusociality Is Not Helpful to Understand Its Evolution and What Should We Do about It

Gadagkar, Raghavendra (1994) Why the Definition of Eusociality Is Not Helpful to Understand Its Evolution and What Should We Do about It. In: Oikos, 70 (3). pp. 485-488.

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The evolution of altruism is the central problem of the evolution of eusociality. The evolution of altruism is most likely to be understood by studying species that show altruism in spite of being capable of ''selfish'' individual reproduction. But the definition of eusociality groups together primitively eusocial species where workers retain the ability to reproduce on their own and highly eusocial species where workers have lost reproductive options. At the same time it separates the primitively eusocial species from semisocial species, species that lack life-time sterility and cooperatively breeding birds and mammals, in most of which, altruism and the associated social life are facultative. The definition of eusociality is also such that it is sometimes difficult to decide,what is eusocial and what is not. I therefore suggest that, (1) we expand the scope of eusociality to include semisocial species, primitively eusocial species, highly eusocial species as well as those cooperatively breeding birds and mammals where individuals give up substantial or all personal reproduction for aiding conspecifics, (2) there should be no requirement of overlap of generations or of life-time sterility and (3) the distinction between primitively and highly eusocial should continue, based on the presence or absence of morphological caste differentiation.

Item Type: Editorials/Short Communications
Publication: Oikos
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to John Wiley and Sons.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 19 May 2011 09:32
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2011 05:08
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/36985

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