Biological Theory 7 (1):48 - 55 (2013)

Michael Trestman
Indiana University, Bloomington
This paper takes a close look at the role of behavior in the “major transitions” in evolution—events during which inheritance and development, and therefore the process of adaptation by natural selection, are reorganized at a new level of compositional hierarchy—and at the requirements for sufficiently explaining these important events in the history of life. I argue that behavior played a crucial role in driving at least some of the major transitions. Because behavioral interactions can become stably organized in novel ways on timescales faster than the lifetime of an organism, behavior can lead the way into a transition—becoming organized at the new level prior to inheritance and development. It is widely acknowledged that behavioral plasticity can play an important role in evolution; environmental novelty can elicit novel behavior that may feed back on the evolutionary process through niche selection or cultural inheritance, for example (Jablonka and Lamb 2005). I argue here that not just novel behaviors but novel forms of behavioral organization (distributed or hierarchical control that produces functional coherence) can emerge, binding the evolutionary fates of a group of organisms which were previously independent in terms of behavior as well as reproduction, and leading the way into a transition to an aggregative or “higher-level” mode of reproduction.
Keywords evolution  organism  evolutionary biology  evolution of behavior  evolutionary explanation  major transitions in evolution
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DOI 10.1007/s13752-012-0072-0
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References found in this work BETA

Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2009 - Critica 41 (123):162-170.
The Problem of Biological Individuality.Ellen Clarke - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (4):312-325.

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