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group selection and mutations

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  • Pascal Bercker
    Is it possible that some *groups* are more prone to have individual mutations which are advantageous to the group even though the mutation is not itself
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 27, 2005
      Is it possible that some *groups* are more prone to have individual mutations which are advantageous to the group even though the mutation is not itself *selectively* advantageous? If this is possible would this count as a group adaptation, and show that group selection is possible? What I'm thinking is that A Newton, or a Darwin may be the result of a mutation that need not garner the individuals more progeny, but does increase the fitness of the group they belong to. And so the group survives better than other groups and goes on producing more Newtons or Darwins. Or is this just fantasy?
       
      Pascal Bercker
       
    • Rick O'Gorman
      ... Hi Pascal, I m not sure anyone replied to this question yet. I am not actually clear on what you are asking, but it seems that you are proposing that there
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 2, 2005
        Pascal Bercker wrote:
        > Is it possible that some *groups* are more prone to have individual mutations which are advantageous to the group even though the mutation is not itself *selectively* advantageous? If this is possible would this count as a group adaptation, and show that group selection is possible? What I'm thinking is that A Newton, or a Darwin may be the result of a mutation that need not garner the individuals more progeny, but does increase the fitness of the group they belong to. And so the group survives better than other groups and goes on producing more Newtons or Darwins. Or is this just fantasy?
        >
        > Pascal Bercker
        >
        Hi Pascal,

        I'm not sure anyone replied to this question yet. I am not actually
        clear on what you are asking, but it seems that you are proposing that
        there could be selection for mutation rate, with some groups having
        higher mutation rates than others, and that those mutations could then
        have fitness-enhancing group benefits. There are problems with how you
        phrased it. for example, you ask whether the mutation could be
        "advantageous to the group even though the mutation is not itself
        *selectively* advantageous". This doesn't make sense--if its
        advantageous to the group then is is selectively advanatageous! Unless
        you meant "advantageous to the group even though the mutation is not
        itself *selectively* advantageous [to the individual]". The problem with
        this view is mutations are random, so there is no way for a trait to
        evolve that produces group-advantageous mutations but precludes
        individually advantagoues ones. It may be possible to come up with
        scenarios where a higher mutation rate is of value (some bacteria appear
        to have the ability to increase mutation rate under stress) but most
        mutations will be deleterious, and cannot be pre-determined as to where
        the benefit, if any, will lie.

        On the other hand, if you are just asking whether mutations could arise
        that are group-beneficial but neutral to an individual, then of course
        it could happen. For example, sticklebacks release a warning to others
        when they are attacked (bitten) by predators. It may be that other
        stickleback detect specific odours that are characteristic of
        sticklebacks, but it could be that sticklebacks have a particularly
        unique odour (to sticklebacks) that is only available through bodily
        injury. This characteristic odour would be group beneficial, by acting
        as a warning, but not individually beneficial, because the "owner" has
        to suffer serious injury for it to be available (this presumes that the
        odour is neutral in costs to alternatives). In contrast, of course, the
        ability to detect the odour is individually selected!

        --
        Rick O’Gorman, PhD
        Research Associate
        Department of Psychology
        Keynes College
        University of Kent
        Canterbury CT2 7NP
        UK

        Phone: 01227 827374
        Fax: 01227 827030
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