The constant philopater hypothesis: a new life history invariant for dispersal evolution

António Rodrigues, Andy Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Surprising invariance relationships have emerged from the study of social interaction, whereby a cancelling-out of multiple partial effects of genetic, ecological or demographic parameters means that they have no net impact upon the evolution of a social behaviour. Such invariants play a pivotal role in the study of social adaptation: on the one hand, they provide theoretical hypotheses that can be empirically tested; and, on the other hand, they provide benchmark frameworks against which new theoretical developments can be understood. Here we derive a novel invariant for dispersal evolution: the “constant philopater hypothesis” (CPH). Specifically, we find that, irrespective of variation in maternal fecundity, all mothers are favoured to produce exactly the same number of philopatric offspring, with high-fecundity mothers investing proportionally more, and low-fecundity mothers investing proportionally less, into dispersing offspring. This result holds for female and male dispersal, under haploid, diploid and haplodiploid modes of inheritance, irrespective of the sex ratio, local resource availability, and whether mother or offspring controls the latter’s dispersal propensity. We explore the implications of this result for evolutionary conflicts of interest – and the exchange and withholding of contextual information – both within and between families, and we show that the CPH is the fundamental invariant that underpins and explains a wider family of invariance relationships that emerge from the study of social evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153–166
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
Early online date31 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • Class structure
  • Demography
  • Heterogeneity
  • Migration
  • Parent-offspring conflict
  • Philopatry
  • Reproductive value
  • Seasonality
  • Sex ratio
  • Social evolution


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