Kin selection is the evolutionary strategy that favours the reproductive success of an organism's relatives, even when at a cost to the organism's own survival and reproduction. Kin altruism can look like altruistic behaviour whose evolution is driven by kin selection. Kin selection is an instance of inclusive fitness, which combines the number of offspring produced with the number an individual can ensure the production of by supporting others, such as siblings.
Charles Darwin discussed the concept of kin selection in his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, where he reflected on the puzzle of sterile social insects, such as honey bees, which leave reproduction to their mothers, arguing that a selection benefit to related organisms (the same "stock") would allow the evolution of a trait that confers the benefit but destroys an individual at the same time. R.A. Fisher in 1930 and J.B.S. Haldane in 1932 set out the mathematics of kin selection, with Haldane famously joking that he would willingly die for two brothers or eight cousins. In 1964, W.D. Hamilton popularised the concept and the major advance in the mathematical treatment of the phenomenon by George R. Price which has become known as Hamilton's rule. In the same year, John Maynard Smith used the term "kin selection" for the first time.
According to Hamilton's rule, kin selection causes genes to increase in frequency when the genetic relatedness of a recipient to an actor multiplied by the benefit to the recipient is greater than the reproductive cost to the actor. Hamilton proposed two mechanisms for kin selection. First, kin recognition allows individuals to be able to identify their relatives. Second, in viscous populations, populations in which the movement of organisms from their place of birth is relatively slow, local interactions tend to be among relatives by default. The viscous population mechanism makes kin selection and social cooperation possible in the absence of kin recognition. In this case, nurture kinship, the treatment of individuals as kin as a result of living together, is sufficient for kin selection, given reasonable assumptions about population dispersal rates. Note that kin selection is not the same thing as group selection, where natural selection is believed to act on the group as a whole.
In humans, altruism is both more likely and on a larger scale with kin than with unrelated individuals; for example, humans give presents according to how closely related they are to the recipient. In other species, vervet monkeys use allomothering, where related females such as older sisters or grandmothers often care for young, according to their relatedness. The social shrimp Synalpheus regalis protects juveniles within highly related colonies.
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