Group selection  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Group selection is a proposed mechanism of evolution in which natural selection acts at the level of the group, instead of at the more conventional level of the individual.

Early authors such as V. C. Wynne-Edwards and Konrad Lorenz argued that the behavior of animals could affect their survival and reproduction as groups, speaking for instance of actions for the good of the species. From the mid 1960s, evolutionary biologists such as John Maynard Smith argued that natural selection acted primarily at the level of the individual. They argued on the basis of mathematical models that individuals would not altruistically sacrifice fitness for the sake of a group. They persuaded the majority of biologists that group selection did not occur, other than in special situations such as the haplodiploid social insects like honeybees (in the Hymenoptera), where kin selection was possible.

In 1994 David Sloan Wilson and Elliott Sober argued for multi-level selection, including group selection, on the grounds that groups, like individuals, could compete. In 2010 three authors including E. O. Wilson, known for his work on social insects especially ants, again revisited the arguments for group selection. They argued that group selection can occur when competition between two or more groups, some containing altruistic individuals who act cooperatively together, is more important for survival than competition between individuals within each group. Their proposals provoked a strong rebuttal from a large group of evolutionary biologists.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Group selection" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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