Group Selection and Reciprocity among Kin

Neelesh Dahanukar*, 1, 2, Milind Watve1, 2
1 Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Sai Trinity, Central Tower, Garware Circle, Pune 411021, India
2 Department of Microbiology, Abasaheb Garware College, Karve Road, Pune 411004, India

Article Metrics

CrossRef Citations:
Total Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 217
Abstract HTML Views: 559
PDF Downloads: 195
Total Views/Downloads: 971
Unique Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 146
Abstract HTML Views: 440
PDF Downloads: 148
Total Views/Downloads: 734

© 2009 Dahanukar and Watve;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Sai Trinity, Central Tower, Garware Circle, Pune 411021, India; E-mail:


The question how Darwinian mechanisms lead to the evolution of individually costly cooperative behavior has given rise to a number of hypotheses. However, attempts to build a synthesis where different types of mechanisms coexist and interact at different levels of selections are still scarce. Here we derive simple game theoretical models where the group level conflicts are resolved by group selection while simultaneously within group competition is resolved by kin selection and reciprocity. We show that none of the mechanisms, when alone, is as robust in evolving and maintaining cooperation as a synthesis of all. Furthermore, we show that initially within group conflicts can be overcome only by kin selection and not reciprocity. However, once common, different types of reciprocities can maintain high levels of cooperation even if average relatedness among individuals is lowered, groups become large, and the benefits of cooperation are reduced. Based on the synthesis we also propose a possible route to the evolution of social and eusocial systems.

Keywords: Evolutionary game theory, prisoner’s dilemma, evolution of cooperation, multi-level selection, evolution of social systems.