Evolution of mammalian social structure

R. K. Chesser, D. W. Sugg, O. E. Rhodes, J. M. Novak, M. H. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Social groups may be viewed as collections of individuals exhibiting nonindependent behaviour and organized in a cooperative manner. The evolutionary advantage of social behaviour to individuals must be measured in its relativity to other potential behaviours, the scale of competitive interactions, and under a variety of environmental and genetic constraints. A primary tenet of social evolution is that coancestry will promote the genes of related individuals. Low rates of exchange among groups, regardless of breeding tactics, may result in high values for intragroup coancestry but may lead to inbreeding depression in progeny. Likewise, breeding tactics such as polygyny, may not impart any long-lasting evolutionary advantage if genetic exchange rates are high. The evolution of social organisations typified by different breeding and migration strategies is evaluated to determine the conditions necessary for various tactics to result in genetic contributions by individuals equal to those of monogamous mating systems. Breeding and dispersal tactics have probably evolved in concert. Social groups which are characterized by strong gene correlations are likely to exhibit relatively low group advantage for progeny survival and breeding. There is little impetus for high gene correlations to accrue in situations where group advantage is very high relative to monogamous systems. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
JournalActa Theriologica
Issue numberSuppl. 2
StatePublished - 1993


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