Part of the Topics in Natural Selection series. See ‡.
Natural selection. III. Selection versus transmission and the levels of selection†
Article first published online: 8 DEC 2011
© 2011 The Author. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2011 European Society For Evolutionary Biology
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 25, Issue 2, pages 227–243, February 2012
How to Cite
FRANK, S. A. (2012), Natural selection. III. Selection versus transmission and the levels of selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25: 227–243. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02431.x
- Issue published online: 12 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 8 DEC 2011
- Received 13 October 2011; accepted 1 November 2011
- genetic variation;
- group selection;
- kin selection;
- life history;
George Williams defined an evolutionary unit as hereditary information for which the selection bias between competing units dominates the informational decay caused by imperfect transmission. In this article, I extend Williams’ approach to show that the ratio of selection bias to transmission bias provides a unifying framework for diverse biological problems. Specific examples include Haldane and Lande's mutation–selection balance, Eigen's error threshold and quasispecies, Van Valen's clade selection, Price's multilevel formulation of group selection, Szathmáry and Demeter's evolutionary origin of primitive cells, Levin and Bull's short-sighted evolution of HIV virulence, Frank's timescale analysis of microbial metabolism and Maynard Smith and Szathmáry's major transitions in evolution. The insights from these diverse applications lead to a deeper understanding of kin selection, group selection, multilevel evolutionary analysis and the philosophical problems of evolutionary units and individuality.