Evolution in response to social selection: The importance of interactive effects of traits on fitness

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17 Scopus citations


Social interactions have a powerful effect on the evolutionary process. Recent attempts to synthesize models of social selection with equations for indirect genetic effects (McGlothlin et al. 2010) provide a broad theoretical base from which to study selection and evolutionary response in the context of social interactions. However, this framework concludes that social selection will lead to evolution only if the traits carried by social partners are nonrandomly associated. I suggest this conclusion is incomplete, and that traits that do not covary between social partners can nevertheless lead to evolution via interactive effects on fitness. Such effects occur when there are functional interactions between traits, and as an example I use the interplay in water striders (Gerridae) between grasping appendages carried by males and spines by females. Functional interactive effects between traits can be incorporated into both the equations for social selection and the general model of social evolution proposed by McGlothlin et al. These expanded equations would accommodate adaptive coevolution in social interactions, integrate the quantitative genetic approach to social evolution with game theoretical approaches, and stimulate some new questions about the process of social evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)890-895
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Adaptation
  • Fitness
  • Models/simulations
  • Quantitative genetics
  • Sexual conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)


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