The Princeton Guide to Ecology

By Simon A. Levin | Go to book overview

I.8
Social Behavior
Eldridge S. Adams
OUTLINE
1. Ecological consequences of social behavior
2. The evolution of cooperation and altruism
3. Mechanisms of social behavior

Social life is a mix of cooperation, altruism, and selfishness. In species as diverse as slime molds, army ants, and great apes, individuals coordinate actions to achieve common goals. Yet competition and conflict are common within social groups and may lead to lethal altercations. Consider, for example, a well-integrated, long-lived society such as a colony of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Cooperative foraging is organized by communication among the worker bees, allowing the colony to allocate effort flexibly over a large region surrounding the hive. By acting in concert, nestmates build combs, raise young, and maintain a comfortable nest temperature even through snowy winters. When the hive is threatened by a vertebrate predator, workers sacrifice their lives to protect the queen and her offspring, perhaps the most celebrated example of altruism among the insects. Yet the benefits of this collective activity are not evenly shared. Although there may be well over 15,000 females in the society, one of them—the queen—lays the vast majority of eggs while eggs laid by other females are quickly eaten. Other conflicts are evident. As winter approaches, males, which do no work, are dragged out of the hive and left to die. When a new queen is reared, she may sting to death other prospective queens still developing in their royal cells, bringing reproductive competition to a deadly conclusion. Like other social species, the honeybee prompts two central questions. How do organisms benefit from group living? What prevents conflicts within the group from undermining cooperative aspects of social life?


GLOSSARY

Allee effect. An inverse relationship between population density and per capita population growth rate. Allee effects can accelerate the decline of a shrinking population.

altruism. Behavior that is costly to the individual performing it and is beneficial to one or more other individuals; costs and benefits are measured in terms of effects on fitness, which can be quantified by lifetime reproductive success.

coefficient of relatedness. The probability that one animal shares an allele carried by another as a result of descent from a common ancestor.

cooperation. Behavior that benefits two or more interacting individuals.

kin selection. Selection resulting from the effects of an organism on the fitness of relatives, as well as through the organism’s own reproduction.

policing. Actions by group members that suppress or punish selfish behavior by other group members.

selfishness. Behavior that benefits the individual performing it at a cost to one or more other individuals.

self-organization. In social species, this refers to phenomena in which group organization arises spontaneously, without central control, because of the actions and interactions of multiple individuals.


1. ECOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES
OF SOCIAL BEHAVIOR

Why do so many organisms live in groups? To behavioral ecologists, the abundance and diversity of social species suggest that in many environments the benefits of group living outweigh its costs. The forces driving sociality vary, but field studies have revealed a few principal advantages, which recur in diverse taxa. One set of advantages emerges in the context of foraging. By acting in groups, animals can improve foraging success through enhanced search, ability to overcome prey defenses, or ability to outcompete other groups or individuals. On the other side of the hunt, potential prey often seek to escape capture by clustering and moving together. Group activity makes it more difficult or more dangerous for a predator to attack, and potential prey can maneuver for positions in which they are less vulnerable than other group members. Shared vigilance

-59-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Princeton Guide to Ecology
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 810

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.