group selection

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group selection A mechanism originally proposed to account for the evolution of altruism in social groups of animals. It was suggested by the British ethologist V. C. Wynne-Edwards (1906–97) in 1962, and arose from his observations that individual animals often expose themselves to danger (for instance by warning of predators) or forgo reproduction (as with worker bees in a colony) for the greater good of the group as a whole. Hence, groups containing altruistic individuals would have some selective advantage over groups lacking such members. This conflicts with Darwinian orthodoxy, which views natural selection as operating strictly on individuals. Group selection has now been supplanted by the theory of kin selection as an explanation of apparently altruistic acts.

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group selection Natural selection that works to the advantage of a population (the group) rather than individuals. There is considerable doubt about whether this actually occurs.

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group selection A type of selection affecting some kinds of behaviour (e.g. in certain species the decline in reproductive rates of a population that has passed the optimal density), which works to the advantage of populations rather than individuals. There is general scepticism about this theory.