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← A misguided attack on kin selection

vanghelie's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by vanghelie

s.k.graham,

Thank you for your reply.

I'm sorry to say I am still very confused.

In the first paragraph you explain Hamilton's rule.

Most of the second paragraph is clear:

The genes for soldiers jaws and honeypots can only have been passed on through queens that were related to the soldiers and honeypots. The were favored by natural selection because these traits in the workers helped the queen reproduce. The queen never has the soldier jaws or honeypot abdomen, so those traits did not directly help her reproduce, those traits only help her because they help her workers to help her. Her workers are her kin.

Of course the genes could only have mattered if the soldiers are related to her.

Hence kin selection (reproductive success of the queen, who is kin to her workers) is the natural selection mechanism that favored the soldiers jaw and honeypots ant's abdomen.

This final conclusion is what really doesn't help me at all. Read superficially, it seems obviously true. But after having explained Hamilton's rule as part of 'defining' kin selection, are you suggesting that this rule is relevant here? If yes, why? (that is what I was and am asking)

Here is my specific problem:

If gene A in some way makes you sacrifice time/energy/resources so that you have less chance of producing offspring yourself, but you increase the chance of someone (or several someones) related to you having offspring, then the "loss" to gene A in not being pass on in your own offspring may be offset by the gain in its chances of being passed on in the offspring of your relatives.

How can something like this be relevant here? Who is sacrificing something so that IT has less chance of producing offspring? The gene results in some workers sacrificing something for other workers and (directly or indirectly) the welfare of the queen - but they have 0 (or very little) chance of producing offspring anyway. As far as the queen is concerned (which is the only reproducing agent here), the gene only results in an increase of effectiveness of how she is "cared for" (regardless if some workers suffer for others because of it..)

Tue, 31 Aug 2010 13:50:07 UTC | #508545