[S9] Fitness and evolution in a social environment: from theory to reality

An individualís fitness will be shaped by multiple aspects of social interactions, including effects of competitive interactions, parental care and parent-offspring conflict, cooperative breeding and inbreeding. Because variation in fitness is the raw ingredient that drives natural selection and consequent evolution, how best to measure it in social environments poses a critical challenge for evolutionary biology. This challenge has been approached differently by different fields. Social evolution theory has well-developed models of inclusive fitness, but these often assume simplified genetic underpinnings. Recent advances in quantitative genetics have explored indirect genetic effects of con-specifics on phenotypic diversity, but the implications of variation in inclusive fitness for evolutionary dynamics are unclear. Analyses of life-history trait variation reveal different selection pressures if fitness is assessed by contributions across multiple generations, again with complex implications. We now require integrated conceptual and empirical means of estimating fitness that bring together currently disparate subfields. Our symposium will showcase recent advances in understanding variation in fitness, and resulting evolution, in social environments. Specifically we aim to: (1) stimulate discussion and communication between theoreticians and empiricists working on a diversity of systems; (2) evaluate alternative methods for measuring fitness; and (3) illustrate the causes and consequences of variation in fitness in social environments for evolutionary dynamics.
Organizers: Loeske Kruuk, Jane Reid
Invited speakers: Piter Bijma, Florence Debarre