Living things are organized in a hierarchy of levels. Genes group
together in cells, cells group together in organisms, and organisms
group together in societies. Even different species form
mutualistic partnerships. Throughout the history of life,
previously independent units have formed groups that, in time, have
come to resemble individuals in their own right. Evolutionary
biologists term such events "the major transitions". The
process common to them all is social evolution.
Each transition occurs only if natural selection favours one unit
joining with another in a new kind of group. This book presents a
fresh synthesis of the principles of social evolution that underlie
the major transitions, explaining how the basic theory underpinning
social evolution - inclusive fitness
theory - is central to understanding each event. The book defines
the key stages in a major transition, then highlights the shared
principles operating at each stage across the transitions as a
whole. It addresses in new ways the question of how, once they have
arisen, organisms and societies become more individualistic.
... sets the standard for the future of research in social evolution ... It will be indispensable for scholars in the field of social evolution in its broadest sense. Ulrich R. Ernst, TREE 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 Principles of Social Evolution is a remarkable book, written in an engaging yet unassuming style and filled with fascinating examples and case studies. Its brevity (267 pages including references) testifies to the authors ability to synthesize complex arguments while retaining clarity and breadth of scope. Human Ethology Bulletin
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, behaviour, 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'.
From the contents:
Preface and Acknowledgements; 1: An Expanded View of Social Evolution; 2: A Primer in Inclusive Fitness Theory; 3: The Major Transitions in Light of Inclusive Fitness Theory; 4: Social Group Formation; 5: Social Group Maintenance; 6: Social Group Transformation; 7: Synthesis and Conclusions; References; Index