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

6. Cooperative Societies

Clutton-Brook, Timothy, et al. The Evolution of Society. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. 364/3125, 2009. An Introduction to a Discussion Meeting on the subject, which could be seen as another sign, along with Gardner and Grafen below, of a new theoretical robustness by which social groupings can be understood as real entities in themselves, capable of their own genetic adaptations. Typical notable papers are “Culture and the Evolution of Human Cooperation” by Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson, “The Ecology of Social Transitions in Human Evolution” by Robert Foley and Clive Gamble, and especially David Queller and Joan Strassmann’s “Beyond Society: The Evolution of Organismality” (reviewed).

Conradt, Larissa and Christian List. Group Decisions in Humans and Animals. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 364/719, 2009. A survey of this Theme Issue wherein leading researchers investigate these activities via quorum sensing self-organizations to influences of agreed global overviews in instances from ants to people. For example, a paper by Christian List, et al, bees seem to know best through a complementarity of independent and interdependent decisions.

Conradt, Larissa and Timothy Roper. Democracy in Animals: The Evolution of Shared Group Decisions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 274/2317, 2007. University of Sussex researchers find a common Metazoan propensity to behave advantageously as self-organizing, democratic systems.

A ‘consensus decision’ is when the members of a group choose, collectively, between mutually exclusive actions. In humans, consensus decisions are often made democratically or in an ‘equally shared’ manner, i.e. all group members contribute to the decision. Biologists are only now realizing that shared consensus decisions also occur in social animals (other than social insects).

Conradt, Larissa and Tomothy Roper. Group Decision-Making in Animals. Nature. 421/155, 2003. New findings that many social animals such as swans, deer and buffalo tend to behave in a democratic manner, rather than by despotic rule. For example, when and where a herd of buffalo moves depends on a majority consensus based on standing up or direction of gaze, often orchestrated by the matriarch.

Conradt, Larissa, et al. “Leading According to Need” in Self-Organizing Groups. American Naturalist. 173/3, 2009. Along with Jens Krause, Iain Couzin, and Timothy Roper, research ecologists find that the nonlinear coordination of large animal groupings is often enhanced and/or guided by members with an especial interest in reaching a destination or behavioral state.

Couzin, Iain. Collective Animal Migration. Current Biology. 28/17, 2018. The MPI Animal Behavior pioneer systems behavior researcher provides a good summary to date of this 21st century discovery of common dynamic phenomena across all manner of active, mobile organisms and their groupings from embryonic forms to aquatic, avian, herding and onto people on the move. See his lab website for a stream of collegial papers.

Migratory movement is a strategy employed by a broad range of taxa as a response to temporally and spatially varying environments. Migrating animals can often be seen to move together, sometimes in vast numbers. Despite this, the social aspects of migration have, to date, received very limited attention. Synchronisation of migratory behaviour among organisms, itself, does not imply that migrants utilize social information. However, as will be outlined here, there is there is growing evidence that many migratory animals do utilize social cues, and that collective factors could shape migration in a variety of important ways. (Abstract excerpt)

Couzin, Iain and Jens Krause. Self-Organization and Collective Behavior in Vertebrates. Advances in the Study of Behavior. Volume 32, 2003. Animal ecologists now at the University of Leeds show that mathematical patterns due to simple interactions between group members, for example, in insects or microbes, will similarly appear in schooling fish, flocking birds, migrating ungulates, and vehicular traffic flow. See also Couzin’s note in Nature (445/715, 2007) on Collective Minds.

Couzin, Iain and Simon Levin, eds. Preface: Collective Behavior in Biological Systems. Journal of Statistical Physics. 158/3, 2015. A brief introduction to an issue on this novel confluence of traditional physics with complex systems science. Select papers are An Algorithmic Approach to Collective Behavior by Bernard Chazelle, Scale-Free Correlations, Influential Neighbours and Speed Control in Flocks of Birds, Charlotte Hemelrijk and Hanno Hildenbrandt, Copepod (Whales) Aggregations: Influences of Physics and Collective Behavior by Glenn Flierl and Nicholas Woods, and Saving Human Lives: What Complexity Science and Information Systems can Contribute by Dirk Helbing (search), et al. Here is a good example and promise of the coming grand synthesis via Anthropo and Cosmo Sapiens.

It is our intention to bring together, via the articles, scientists working in related disciplines involving animal swarms, flocking models, quorum sensing, etc. We believe that statistical mechanics can provide a unifying background theme through which to look at these varied cooperative phenomena in biology. (Preface)

The emergence of collective structure from the decentralized interaction of autonomous agents remains, with notable exceptions, a mystery. While powerful tools from dynamics and statistical mechanics have been brought to bear, sometimes with great success, an algorithmic perspective has been lacking. Viewing collective behavior through the lens of natural algorithms offers potential benefits. This article examines the merits and challenges of an algorithmic approach to the emergence of collective order. (Chazelle)

Couzin, Iain, et al. Collective Memory and Spatial Sorting in Animal Groups. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 218/1, 2002. It is now possible to simulate in computer programs how fish schools and birds flocks maintain a self-organized coherence all the while individual members employ simple, local rules.

Crespi, Bernard. The Insectan Apes. Human Nature. 25/1, 2014. The Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, evolutionary and behavioral biologist (search) continues his wide ranging, comparative creature studies from invertebrates to primates and onto human psychologies. A scan of his publications page offers a unique array, with a special emphasis on autistic, Williams, and schizophrenic syndromes. As the Abstract notes, a common proclivity for progeny care can be elucidated across this expanse that seems to recur independently of whatever species and environment.

I present evidence that humans have evolved convergently to social insects with regard to a large suite of social, ecological, and reproductive phenotypes. Convergences between humans and social insects include: (1) groups with genetically and environmentally defined structures; (2) extensive divisions of labor; (3) specialization of a relatively restricted set of females for reproduction, with enhanced fertility; (4) extensive extramaternal care; (5) within-group food sharing; (6) generalized diets composed of high-nutrient-density food; (7) solicitous juveniles, but high rates of infanticide; (8) ecological dominance; (9) enhanced colonizing abilities; and (10) collective, cooperative decision-making. Most of these convergent phenotypic adaptations stem from reorganization of key life-history trade-offs due to behavioral, physiological, and life-historical specializations. (Abstract)

The main purpose of my research program is to use integrated genetic, behavioural, ecological and phylogenetic approaches to study the evolution of social and sexual systems across all levels in the hierarchy of life, from genes, to cells, to organisms, to social systems, and to the brain. (BCs CV website)

Croft, Darren, et al. Exploring Animal Social Networks. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. An animal behaviorist (Croft), physicist (Richard James), and behavioral ecologist (Jens Krause) from the Universities of Wales, Bath, and Leeds, provide one of the first volumes on the realization that animal species of all scales and stripes are joined into dynamic relationships that can be well mathematically modeled. By way of social network analysis, scale-free and small world webs, and so on, a resonance is being found across Metazoans from fish and birds to pinnipeds and primates.

D’Ettorre, Patrizia and David P. Hughes. Sociobiology of Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Not yet seen, but via its web post a diverse collection across species from insects to primates, which involves many aspects from genes, chemical signals to gestures and education. A notable example is Language Unbound: Genomic Imprinting and Psychosis in the Origin and Evolution of Modern Humans by Bernard Crespi.

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