The evolution of different forms of sociality: behavioral mechanisms and eco-evolutionary feedback

Daniel Job Van Der Post, Rineke Verbrugge, Charlotte Hemelrijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Different forms of sociality have evolved via unique evolutionary trajectories. However, it remains unknown to what extent trajectories of social evolution depend on the specific characteristics of different species. Our approach to studying such trajectories is to use evolutionary case-studies, so that we can investigate how grouping co-evolves with a multitude of individual characteristics. Here we focus on anti-predator vigilance and foraging. We use an individual-based model, where behavioral mechanisms are specified, and costs and benefits are not predefined. We show that evolutionary changes in grouping alter selection pressures on vigilance, and vice versa. This eco-evolutionary feedback generates an evolutionary progression from “leader-follower” societies to “fission-fusion” societies, where cooperative vigilance in groups is maintained via a balance between within- and between-group selection. Group-level selection is generated from an assortment that arises spontaneously when vigilant and non-vigilant foragers have different grouping tendencies. The evolutionary maintenance of small groups, and cooperative vigilance in those groups, is therefore achieved simultaneously. The evolutionary phases, and the transitions between them, depend strongly on behavioral mechanisms. Thus, integrating behavioral mechanisms and eco-evolutionary feedback is critical for understanding what kinds of intermediate stages are involved during the evolution of particular forms of sociality.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0117027
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2015


  • Evolution
  • Grouping
  • Foraging
  • Vigilance
  • Cooperation
  • Multi-level selection
  • Multi-scale model
  • Individual-based model
  • Artificial life


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