Discussion papers

CPM-02-88 - 15 February 2002

Cooperation and Specialisation without Kin Selection

David Hales


We present a model that demonstrates the evolution of groups composed of cooperative individuals performing specialised functions. Specialisation and cooperation results from an evolutionary process in which selection and reproduction is based on individual fitness. Specialists come to help (through the donation of resources) their non-kin group members, optimising their behaviour as a team and producing a fitter group. The mechanism that promotes this benevolent, cooperative group behaviour is based on the concept of a “tag”. Tags are observable markings, cues or displays. Individuals can observe the tags of others and take alternative actions based on those observations (e.g. to altruistically help or not).