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VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies

6. Cooperative Societies

Lindenfors, Patrik. Neocortex Evolution in Primates: The ‘Social Brain’ is for Females. Biology Letters. 1/4, 2005. In this new journal from the Royal Society, a note about the importance of gender differences when studying how primate societies evolved and grew complex. In an extension of Robin Dunbar’s theory that increased sociality drove brain development, this process is seen to take place mostly amongst female members who took care of food resources and group survival.

Ling, Hangjian, et al. Costs and Benefits of Social Relationships in the Collective Motion of Bird Flocks. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 3/948, 2019. A six person team from Stanford University, University of Exeter and Simon Fraser University including Nicholas Ouellette contend that prior models underplay local, individual interactions between semi-autonomous group members, which in reality can be a major component of successful swarm patterns. See also Environmental Perturbations Induce Correlations in Midge Swarms in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface (March 2020) for an update and finesse.

Lord, Warren, et al. Inference of Causal Information Flow in Collective Animal Behavior. arXiv:1606.01932. By mid 2016, systems mathematicians Lord, Jie Sun, and Erik Bollt, Clarkson University, and Nicholas Ouellette, Stanford University, can achieve a sophisticated analysis of creaturely group activities in terms of basic physical principles. Since the same phenomena applies to any species from invertebrate insects to mammals and humans, a deep rooted connection is achieved with a lively, iterative cosmic genesis. See also Empirical Questions for Collective-Behavior Modelling by N. Ouellette in Pramana – Journal of Physics (84/3, 2015).

Collectively interacting groups of social animals such as herds, schools, flocks, or crowds go by many names depending on the specific animal species. But in all cases, they tend to display seemingly purposeful, coordinated group-level dynamics despite the apparent absence of leaders or directors. These coordinated group behaviors appear to emerge only from interactions between individuals, analogous to the manner in which macroscopic observables are determined by microscopic interactions in statistical physics. Thus, collective behavior has captivated a broad spectrum of researchers from many different disciplines [1]–[19]. Making the analogy to statistical physics more concrete, it is reasonable to suggest that a deep understanding of collective group motion may arise from three parallel pursuits. We can perform a macroscopic analysis, focusing on the observed group-level behavior such as the group morphology or the material-like properties; we can perform a microscopic analysis, determining the nature of the interactions between individuals; and we can study how the microscopic interactions scale up to give rise to the macroscopic properties. (1)

Lusseau, David. The Emergent Properties of a Dolphin Social Network. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biology Letters. Supplement 2/S186, 2003. In the Doubtful Sound community of bottlenose dolphins, the connectivity of individual members follows a self-organized, complex scale-free, power law distribution, similar to universal network geometries found for human societies.

Lyon, Pamela. From Quorum to Cooperation: Lessons from Bacterial Sociality for Evolutionary Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 38/4, 2007. An article in the Towards a Philosophy of Microbiology section which further highlights and documents an historic shift to admit the ubiquity of mutual interactive aid throughout all of nature’s domains. But if fully assimilated, it would bode for a novel realization of life’s inherent tendency to grow in nested vitality and sentience.

Without cooperation most of the ‘major landmarks in the diversification of life and the hierarchical organization of the living world’ would have been impossible, including the transitions form nonlife to life, networks of cooperating genes to the first functioning cell, prokaryotes to eukaryotes, unicellular to multicellular organization, asexual to sexual reproduction, and so on to the development of complex ecosystems. In short, the more nature yields her secrets, the more ubiquitous cooperation appears to be. (821)

Marcoux, Marianne and David Lusseau. Network Modularity Promotes Cooperation. Journal of Theoretical Biology. Online December, 2012. University of Aberdeen behavioral biologists contribute to the togetherness turn by explaining how prevalent and vital for survival success in evolving animal groups is reciprocal helping and sharing. A notable factor is the inherent manifestation of relational modules in community, which serve to provide an innate, constant structure.

Cooperation in animals and humans is widely observed even if evolutionary biology theories predict the evolution of selfish individuals. Previous game theory models have shown that cooperation can evolve when the game takes place in a structured population such as a social network because it limits interactions between individuals. Modularity, the natural division of a network into groups, is a key characteristic of all social networks but the influence of this crucial social feature on the evolution of cooperation has never been investigated. Here, we provide novel evidences that network modularity promotes the evolution of cooperation in 2-person prisoner's dilemma games. By simulating games on social networks of different structures, we show that modularity shapes interactions between individuals favouring the evolution of cooperation. Modularity provides a simple mechanism for the evolution of cooperation without having to invoke complicated mechanisms such as reputation or punishment, or requiring genetic similarity among individuals. Thus, cooperation can evolve over wider social contexts than previously reported. (Abstract)

Mendoza, Manuel, et al. Emergence of Community Structure in Terrestrial Mammal-Dominated Ecosystems. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 230/2, 2004. Herd animals such as small and large herbivores in Africa go about in a far from thermodynamic equilibrium state which impels them to form coherent, self-organized groupings.

In conclusion, we suggest that communities are unitary structures with coherent properties that result from the self-organizing dynamic of the whole system. (213)

Mesoudi, Alex and Alex Thornton. What is Cumulative Cultural Evolution? Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Vol.285, Iss.1880, 2018. University of Exeter bioscientists press ways to explain this fairly obvious feature of intelligent, communicative species as by many means they achieve a common beneficial knowledge. The problem seems to be how to square with vested Darwinian views that nothing actually proceeds in any forward, telelogic direction on its inherent own.

In recent years, the phenomenon of cumulative cultural evolution (CCE) has become the focus of major research interest in biology, psychology and anthropology. Some researchers argue that CCE is unique to humans and underlies our extraordinary evolutionary success as a species. Others claim to have found CCE in non-human species. Here, we review how researchers define, use and test CCE. We identify a core set of criteria for CCE which are both necessary and sufficient, and may be found in non-human species. We reinterpret previous theoretical models and observational and experimental studies of both human and non-human species in light of these more fine-grained criteria. Finally, we discuss key issues surrounding information, fitness and cognition. (Abstract)

Michod, Richard. Darwinian Dynamics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999. A significant book which advocates the new multilevel view of evolution. This emergent scale is seen to result from a propensity for beneficial collaboration, which mediates debilitating competition.

What began as the study of animal social behavior some thirty-five years ago has now embraced the study of interactions at all biological levels. Instead of being viewed as a special characteristic clustered in certain groups of social animals, cooperation is now seen as the primary creative force behind ever greater levels of complexity and organization in all of biology. (xi)

Miller, Noam, et al. Both Information and Social Cohesion Determine Collective Decisions in Animal Groups. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Early edition, March, 2013. With Simon Garnier, Andrew Hartnett, and Iain Couzin, Princeton University behavioral biologists provide sophisticated quantifications of a naturally democratic Me and We reciprocity that well serves both creature and community. See Grund herein for more examples.

During consensus decision making, individuals in groups balance personal information (based on their own past experiences) with social information (based on the behavior of other individuals), allowing the group to reach a single collective choice. Previous studies of consensus decision making processes have focused on the informational aspects of behavioral choice, assuming that individuals make choices based solely on their likelihood of being beneficial (e.g., rewarded). However, decisions by both humans and nonhuman animals systematically violate such expectations. Here we experimentally disassociate cohesion-based decisions from information-based decisions using a three-choice paradigm and demonstrate that both factors are crucial to understanding the collective decision making of schooling fish. Balancing of personal information and social cues by individuals in key frontal positions in the group is shown to be essential for such group-level capabilities. Our results demonstrate the importance of integrating informational with other social considerations when explaining the collective capabilities of group-living animals. (Abstract excerpts)

Miramontes, Octavio and Og DeSouza. Social Evolution: New Horizons. arXiv:1404.6267. An April 2014 book chapter by a National Autonomous University of Mexico UNAM systems physicist and a Universidade Federal de Vicosa UFV, Brazil systems entomologist for Frontiers in Ecology, Evolution and Complexity, to appear online at Copit Arxives, hosted by UNAM. At the outset, we note concurrent papers herein by Rasskin-Gutman, Kurvers, Esteve-Altava, and others, that verify group cooperative benefits across every creaturely kind, as they take the form of ubiquitous nonlinear networks. By a deep evolutionary view, life’s origin is fostered by an “endosymbiotic mutualism” in cyanobacteria, an effect that then recurs at each sequential scale and instance. As living systems work and play to stay together, reference is made to constant “non-random interaction dynamics” which serve to script the act and show. An excellent overview entry.

Cooperation is a widespread natural phenomenon yet current evolutionary thinking is dominated by the paradigm of selfish competition. Recent advanced in many fronts of Biology and Non-linear Physics are helping to bring cooperation to its proper place. In this contribution, the most important controversies and open research avenues in the field of social evolution are reviewed. It is argued that a novel theory of social evolution must integrate the concepts of the science of Complex Systems with those of the Darwinian tradition. Current gene-centric approaches should be reviewed and complemented with evidence from multilevel phenomena (group selection), the constrains given by the non-linear nature of biological dynamical systems and the emergent nature of dissipative phenomena. (Abstract)

Moore, Douglas, et al. Inform: Efficient Information-Theoretic Analysis of Collective Behaviors. Frontiers in Robotics and AI. Online June, 2018. DM, Gabriele Valentini, and Sara Walker, Arizona State University and Michael Levin, Tufts University contribute to wide-ranging realizations reported herein and throughout (Cavagna, Giardina, Vicsek) that a common self-organizing complex network system of interacting entities can be seen in evident effect across all manner of animal groupings by way of advanced information-computational methods.

The study of collective behavior has relied on a variety of methodological tools ranging from population or game-theoretic models to empirical ones like Monte Carlo or multi-agent simulations. An approach that is increasingly being explored is the use of information theory as a methodological framework to study the flow of information and the statistical properties of collectives of interacting agents. We introduce Inform, an open-source framework for efficient information theoretic analysis that exploits the computational power of a C library while simplifying its use through a variety of common higher-level scripting languages.. We describe the Inform framework, study its computational efficiency and analyze three case studies: biochemical information storage in regenerating planaria, nest-site selection in the ant Temnothorax rugatulus, and collective decision making in multi-agent simulations. (Abstract edits)

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