Transforming our understanding of life is the realization that evolution occurs not only among individuals within populations but also through the integration of groups of preexisting individuals into a new higher-level individual, that is, through evolutionary transitions in individuality. During evolutionary transitions (such as during the origin of gene networks, bacteria-like cells, eukaryotic cells, multicellular organisms, and societies), fitness must be reorganized; specifically, it must be transferred from the lower- to the higher-level units and partitioned among the lower-level units that specialize in the fitness components of the new higher-level individual. This paper studies the role of fitness trade-offs in fitness reorganization, the evolution of cooperation, and the conversion of a group into a new individual during the origin of multicellular life. Specifically, this study shows that the fitness of the group is augmented over the average fitness of its members according to a covariance effect. This covariance effect appears to be one of the first emergent properties of the group and a general aspect of groups with multiplicative properties that are themselves averages of properties of lower-level units. The covariance effect allows groups to break through the constraints that govern their members, and this effect likely applies to group dynamics in other fields.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jun 13 2006|
- Germ-soma differentiation
- Life-history evolution
ASJC Scopus subject areas