In This Chapter

^ Making fitness inclusive ^ Benefiting your own kin ^ Being selective individually and in groups ^ Evolving altruism

Throughout this book, I emphasize the importance of evolution acting on individuals. Why? Because the individual is far and away the most important unit on which selection acts. But natural selection doesn't act only on individuals. Sometimes selection acts at other levels. This chapter explores levels of selection: the power of natural selection to act on genes and groups.

Understanding the levels of selection is important in trying to fathom some of the behavior you see in nature. Some organisms, for example, don't reproduce. Others delay reproduction. Some behave altruistically toward others (giving up their own stores of food, for example, to prevent another organism from starving). In these systems, something besides individual selection is probably going on.

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