Principles of Social Evolution (Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0199231164
ISBN-10: 0199231168
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Editorial Reviews

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"A superb book, one that should change how we teach and think about life on our planet...an accessible, comprehensive, and highly readable overview, which will be invaluable in undergraduate teaching...equally suitable for frontline researchers from postgraduate to professorial levels." -- Stuart West, Science


"The book will be highly attractive to all those who are interested in the evolution of sociality, whether in insects or among individual cells. Its well-understandable account of inclusive fitness theory comes at a perfect time. It will rescue those who are confused by the current resurgence of models claiming that altruism, such as shown by the sterile somatic cells in our bodies or the workers in the societies of ants or termites, can evolve without relatedness. the much broadened, theoretical approach of this new book makes it an excellent complement to more descriptive treatises of conflict and cooperation." -- Jurgen Heinze, Biologie I, Universittat Regensburg, Myrmecological News


"This book is ideal for teaching undergraduates. Thanks to its clear structrure and the stringency of the arguments, the chapter on inclusive fitness could also serve as a stand-alone treatise. Yet in its scope and ambition, this work is not a textbook but rather sets the standard for the future of research in social evolution. As such, it will be indispensable for scholars in the field of social evolution in its broadest sense." -- Trends in Ecology and Evolution


About the Author


Andrew Bourke graduated with a degree in Zoology from the University of Cambridge in 1983, before conducting a PhD on the social biology of slave-making ants at the University of Bath. In 1988 he obtained a Junior Research Fellowship from Jesus College, Cambridge, which he held until 1991 in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. In 1992, he moved to the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, where he was a research fellow and latterly a Reader. He has held his present position as Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of East Anglia since 2006. His research focuses on the evolution of social behaviour, especially in ants and bees. He has published around 50 articles on the conservation, behavior, ecology, evolution, and genetics of the social insects, and is coauthor of the book Social Evolution in Ants. From 2000 to 2006, he was an editor, then Editor-in-Chief, of the journal Behavioral Ecology.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199231168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199231164
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.7 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #401,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is intended for graduate students, advanced undergrads, and researchers in evolutionary biology, evolutionary genetics, and behavior ecology. It is scholarly not popular science writing, although the prose itself is clear and unpretentious, and the overall organization is outstanding.

Noting that "many still regard the business of social evolution as the beehive and baboon troop alone," Andrew Bourke seeks instead to "place inclusive fitness theory centre-stage in the analysis of the major transitions as whole" (5). The major transitions in the history of life being, for example, the origin of eukaryotes, the origin of multicellular organisms, and the origins of social organisms (10-15). (Bourke in fact defines six major transitions: 1. Separate replicators [genes] to cell enclosing genome; 2. Separate unicells to symbiotic unicell [eukaryotes]; 3. Asexual unicells to sexual unicells; 4. Unicells to multicellular organism; 5. Multicellular organisms to eusocial societies; and 6. Separate species to interspecific mutualisms).

As Bourke notes, "genes must cooperate to form a genome within a cell, cells must cooperate to form a multicellular organism, and multicellular organisms must cooperate to form a society" (5). Hamilton's rule properly understood, Burke argues, explains how and under what circumstances this cooperation occurs. In other words, common principles derived from inclusive fitness theory apply to each level of social organization, and so also can help explain each major transition. Bourke further divides each major transition into three principal stages: social group formation; social group maintenance; and social group transformation.

Before discussing in more detail what Bourke does cover, let me clarify what he does not.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Watson on January 21, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm an evolutionary biologist with a central interest in social behavior (PhD, Cornell University, 1988.). I post-doc'ed with Bill Hamilton. I was fortunate to have some of the best evolutionary ecology mentors and colleagues around me for my whole life. I say, this book is both wonderful, thrilling, and authoritative. If you really want to know what's being figured out in this stunning area of biology, even if you are not a biologist at all, this is the book for you. It is the best written serious summary of the whole sweep of social evolution you can get. Buy this book, get into adult mode and be ready for a little very worthwhile work, and enjoy. I keep this book by my bedside with about 15 other "sacred texts." Note, my relatedness to the author is zero. -- Paul J. Watson, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA
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Principles of Social Evolution (Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution)
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