Friday, November 4, 2011

Eusocial: Voluntary?

The idea of "eusocial" species is what got me thinking about "euvoluntary" exchange in the first place.

Is eusociality adaptive? It is clearly adaptive for the hive, or the nest. But can we reconcile eusocial species with evolution?

Or would it be some kind of "choice," a collective decision to avoid competition among individuals in favor of competition among the equivalent of clans or bands?

(Thanks to Prof. Ward)

1 comment:

  1. Eusociality is found almost exclusively in social insects (the only exception are the mole rats, about which I discuss here). In eusocial insects, the non-queen individuals are non-reproducing, and thus are completely expendable and also act as an extension of the reproducing queen. E.O. Wilson's calling them a "superorganism" is thus not far off the mark. In many ways, an ant colony, for example, is just a disambiguated organism.

    Humans are more social than any other mammal except mole rats, but our sociality is nevertheless derived from that mammalian foundation. Social cohesion does, however, allow the group to compete against other groups, engage in better self-protection, etc. The more socially cohesive the group, the better able it is to protect itself, compete, etc. Thus, such groups can undergo group selection -- as Hayek discussed, and as E.O. Wilson has recently accepted as true. Those groups that could work best together could survive better. Thus, sociality in mammals has increased over time -- we have survival of the most cooperative.


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?