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Biodiversity--the genetic variety of life--is an exuberant product of the evolutionary past, a vast human-supportive resource (aesthetic, intellectual, and material) of the present, and a rich legacy to cherish and preserve for the future. Two urgent challenges, and opportunities, for 21st-century science are to gain deeper insights into the evolutionary processes that foster biotic diversity, and to translate that understanding into workable solutions for the regional and global crises that biodiversity currently faces. A grasp of evolutionary principles and processes is important in other societal arenas as well, such as education, medicine, sociology, and other applied fields including agriculture, pharmacology, and biotechnology. The ramifications of evolutionary thought also extend into learned realms traditionally reserved for philosophy and religion.

The central goal of the In the Light of Evolution (ILE) series is to promote the evolutionary sciences through state-of-the-art colloquia--in the series of Arthur M. Sackler colloquia sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences--and their published proceedings. Each installment explores evolutionary perspectives on a particular biological topic that is scientifically intriguing but also has special relevance to contemporary societal issues or challenges. This book is the outgrowth of the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium "Cooperation and Conflict," which was sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences on January 7-8, 2011, at the Academy's Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, California. It is the fifth in a series of colloquia under the general title "In the Light of Evolution." The current volume explores recent developments in the study of cooperation and conflict, ranging from the level of the gene to societies and symbioses.

Humans can be vicious, but paradoxically we are also among nature's great cooperators. Even our great conflicts-wars-are extremely cooperative endeavors on each side. Some of this cooperation is best understood culturally, but we are also products of evolution, with bodies, brains, and behaviors molded by natural selection. How cooperation evolves has been one of the big questions in evolutionary biology, and how it pays or does not pay is a great intellectual puzzle. The puzzle of cooperation was the dominant theme of research in the early years of Darwin's research, whereas recent work has emphasized its importance and ubiquity. Far from being a rare trait shown by social insects and a few others, cooperation is both widespread taxonomically and essential to life. The depth of research on cooperation and conflict has increased greatly, most notably in the direction of small organisms.

Although most of In the Light of Evolution V: Cooperation and Conflict is about the new topics that are being treated as part of social evolution, such as genes, microbes, and medicine, the old fundamental subjects still matter and remain the object of vigorous research. The first four chapters revisit some of these standard arenas, including social insects, cooperatively breeding birds, mutualisms, and how to model social evolution.

Suggested Citation

National Academy of Sciences. 2011. In the Light of Evolution: Volume V: Cooperation and Conflict. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

466 pages |  6 x 9 | 

  • Hardcover:  978-0-309-21836-8
  • Ebook:  978-0-309-21840-5
Chapters skim
Front Matter i-xvi
1 Expanded Social Fitness and Hamilton's Rule for Kin, Kith, and Kind--DAVID C. QUELLER 5-26
2 Evolutionary Transitions in Bacterial Symbiosis--JOEL L. SACHS, RYAN G. SKOPHAMMER, and JOHN U. REGUS 27-48
3 Kinship, Greenbeards, and Runaway Social Selection in the Evolution of Social Insect Cooperation--PETER NONACS 49-68
4 Spatiotemporal Environmental Variation, Risk Aversion, and the Evolution of Cooperative Breeding as a Bet-Hedging Strategy--DUSTIN R. RUBENSTEIN 69-86
5 Endemic Social Diversity Within Natural Kin Groups of a Cooperative Bacterium--SUSANNE A. KRAEMER and GREGORY J. VELICER 91-116
6 Evolution of Restraint in a Structured RockPaperScissors Community--JOSHUA R. NAHUM, BRITTANY N. HARDING, and BENJAMIN KERR 117-136
7 Social Evolution in Multispecies Biofilms--SARA MITRI, JOO B. XAVIER, and KEVIN R. FOSTER 137-164
8 Molecular Evolutionary Analyses of Insect Societies--BRIELLE J. FISCHMAN, S. HOLLIS WOODARD, and GENE E. ROBINSON 167-190
9 Evolution of Cooperation and Control of Cheating in a Social Microbe--JOAN E. STRASSMANN and DAVID C. QUELLER 191-212
10 Selfish Genetic Elements, Genetic Conflict, and Evolutionary Innovation--JOHN H. WERREN 213-234
11 The Evolution of Drug Resistance and the Curious Orthodoxy of Aggressive Chemotherapy--ANDREW F. READ, TROY DAY, and SILVIE HUIJBEN 237-252
12 Genomic Imprinting and the Evolutionary Psychology of Human Kinship--DAVID HAIG 253-274
13 Pathology from Evolutionary Conflict, with a Theory of X Chromosome Versus Autosome Conflict over Sexually Antagonistic Traits--STEVEN A. FRANK and BERNARD J. CRESPI 275-298
14 Cooperation and Competition in a Cliff-Dwelling People--BEVERLY I. STRASSMANN 303-324
15 Extent and Limits of Cooperation in Animals--DOROTHY L. CHENEY 325-342
16 Evolutionary Foundations of Human Prosocial Sentiments--JOAN B. SILK and BAILEY R. HOUSE 343-362
17 The Cultural Niche: Why Social Learning Is Essential for Human Adaptation--ROBERT BOYD, PETER J. RICHERSON, and JOSEPH HENRICH 363-382
References 383-436
Index 437-450

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