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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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V. Life's Corporeal Evolution Encodes and Organizes Itself: An EarthWinian Genesis Synthesis

5. Cooperative Societies

Fuentes, Agustin, et al. Niche Construction through Cooperation: A Nonlinear Dynamics Contribution to Modeling Facets of the Evolutionary History in the Genus Homo. Current Anthropology. 51/3, 2010. A Notre Dame anthropologist, together with Matthew Wyczalkowski, Washington University, and Katherine MacKinnon, Saint Louis University, seek expansions to Darwinism to help explain the ubiquitous fact of reciprocal aid. Surely there must be something else and much more, an inherent propensity to build and share, must be going on.

The transition from early members of the genus Homo to Homo erectus/ergaster is marked by subtle morphological shifts but resulted in substantial changes in evolutionary trajectory. Predation pressures on the hominins may have been significant in influencing this transition. These contexts might have stimulated a shift in behavior and modes of engagement with the environment that initiated a complex suite of changes facilitating the emergence of current features of humanity. In this report we outline a potential model for these shifts based on nonlinear dynamical interactions involving niche construction and increased reliance on complex cooperation as an antipredator strategy. Modeling proposed selective predation pressures on early humans, leading to the idea that increasingly complex sociality, patterns of cooperation, and niche construction laid the foundation for the successful emergence and spread of the genus Homo and potentially a concomitant decline for the genus Paranthropus. (435)

Gadau, Jurgen and Jennifer Fewell, eds. Organization of Insect Societies: From Genome to Sociocomplexity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. After some years of field and laboratory entomology research, a summary volume has now be assembled, whose four sections cover: Transitions in Social Evolution; Communication; Neurogenetic Basis of Social Behavior; and Theoretical Perspectives on Social Organization. And of course Edward O. Wilson writes the Foreword. As expressed in a paper by Nigel Franks, et al, “The Dawn of a Golden Age in Mathematical Insect Sociobiology,” a new optimism arises because complex, self-organizing systems match so well the dynamic interplays of bee and hive, ant and army, and societal groupings everywhere. See also chapters by Jennifer Fewell, et al, and Andrew Hamiliton, et al.

Garcia, Thomas and Silvia De Monte. Group Formation and the Evolution of Sociality. Evolution. Online September, 2012. École Normale Supérieure, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris, and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique researchers in “Eco-Evolutionary Mathematics” find a constant, recurrent propensity for creatures from microbes to people to cohesively assemble for advantages of both individual and congregate survival and welfare.

In spite of its intrinsic evolutionary instability, altruistic behavior in social groups is widespread in nature, spanning from organisms endowed with complex cognitive abilities to microbial populations. In this study, we show that if social individuals have an enhanced tendency to form groups and fitness increases with group cohesion, sociality can evolve and be maintained in the absence of actively assortative mechanisms such as kin recognition or nepotism toward other carriers of the social gene. When explicitly taken into account in a game-theoretical framework, the process of group formation qualitatively changes the evolutionary dynamics with respect to games played in groups of constant size and equal grouping tendencies. The evolutionary consequences of the rules underpinning the group size distribution are discussed for a simple model of microbial aggregation by differential attachment, indicating a way to the evolution of sociality bereft of peer recognition. (Abstract)

The evolution of collective behavior. Communities of organisms that express social behavior are found at every level of biological complexity, ranging from quorum-sensing in bacteria to human altruism. The feature of collective properties is that they do not only depend on one individual’s choices, but also on the choices of all the components of a social group. The establishment, on evolutionary time scales, and the dynamics, on ecological time scales, of communities of socially interacting individuals can be addressed theoretically as well as by experiments on microbial communities. I try to develop game-theoretical models with particular attention to the feasibility of their experimental validation. (Silvia De Monte’s web page)

Gardner, Andy and Alan Grafen. Capturing the Superorganism: A Formal Theory of Group Adaptation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 22/4, 2009. Since the 1960s the conviction that animal groups from insects to birds, fish, mammals, and to human beings do take on the semblance of a true organism has resided at the edges of what is permitted. Recently, much through the work of David Sloan Wilson and Edward O. Wilson, aided by the “major transitions” scale of John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary, it now crossing into acceptance. In this essay University of Edinburgh biologists pose an advance by which such groupings, as agents within Agents, can be seen to repeat characteristic “individual-level adaption” as per the late geneticist William Hamilton. From a 2009 retrospect, if these decades of research are viewed as a collaborative learning project, a new evolutionary synthesis is then evinced not as a gradual meander but as an emergent, repetitive nest from molecule to metropolis. But a further step is to wonder does this archetypal anatomy spring from and reflect a universal self-creation?

Gardner, Michael, et al. Group Living in Squamate Reptiles: A Review of Evidence for Stable Aggregations. Biological Reviews. 91/6, 2016. Flanders University of South Australia behavioral ecologists find this class of scaled lizards and snakes, while primitive, to exhibit strong proclivities for social assemblies. We further note because such a constantly recurrent sociality would seem to imply an independent organizational source at work.

How sociality evolves and is maintained remains a key question in evolutionary biology. Most studies to date have focused on insects, birds, and mammals but data from a wider range of taxonomic groups are essential to identify general patterns and processes. The extent of social behaviour among squamate reptiles is under-appreciated, yet they are a promising group for further studies. Living in aggregations is posited as an important step in the evolution of more complex sociality. We review data on aggregations among squamates and find evidence for some form of aggregations in 94 species across 22 families. Of these, 18 species across 7 families exhibited ‘stable’ aggregations that entail overlapping home ranges and stable membership in long-term (years) or seasonal aggregations. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that stable aggregations have evolved multiple times in squamates. We: (i) identify significant gaps in our understanding; (ii) outline key traits which should be the focus of future research; and (iii) outline the potential for utilising reproductive skew theory to provide insights into squamate sociality. (Abstract)

Gavrilets, Sergey. On the Evolutionary Origins of the Egalitarian Syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109/14069, 2012. In a widely reported paper, a University of Tennessee mathematical biologist quantifies that viable human and animal social assemblies are distinguished by a mutual, palliative reciprocity of individual and group. Most importantly this is achieved by an ability to constrain self-serving, destructive bully behavior by way of cooperative coalitions. Once again, these archetypal, “creative union” complements achieve a social viability, which are so aberrantly out of balance and kilter in our violent, male-dominated civilization, or lack thereof.

The evolutionary emergence of the egalitarian syndrome is one of the most intriguing unsolved puzzles related to the origins of modern humans. Standard explanations and models for cooperation and altruism—reciprocity, kin and group selection, and punishment — are not directly applicable to the emergence of egalitarian behavior in hierarchically organized groups that characterized the social life of our ancestors. Here I study an evolutionary model of group living individuals competing for resources and reproductive success. In the model, the differences in fighting abilities lead to the emergence of hierarchies where stronger individuals take away resources from weaker individuals and, as a result, have higher reproductive success.

First, I show that the logic of within-group competition implies under rather general conditions that each individual benefits if the transfer of the resource from a weaker group member to a stronger one is prevented. This effect is especially strong in small groups. Then I demonstrate that this effect can result in the evolution of a particular, genetically controlled psychology causing individuals to interfere in a bully–victim conflict on the side of the victim. A necessary condition is a high efficiency of coalitions in conflicts against the bullies. The egalitarian drive leads to a dramatic reduction in within-group inequality. Simultaneously it creates the conditions for the emergence of inequity aversion, empathy, compassion, and egalitarian moral values via the internalization of behavioral rules imposed by natural selection. It also promotes widespread cooperation via coalition formation. (Abstract)

Humans exhibit a strong egalitarian syndrome, i.e., the complex of cognitive perspectives, ethical principles, social norms, and individual and collective attitudes promoting equality (1–9). The universality of egalitarianism in mobile hunter-gatherers suggests that it is an ancient, evolved human pattern (2, 5, 6). Political egalitarianism of contemporary foragers is accomplished by a variety of cultural practices (leveling mechanisms) aiming at controlling overassertive, dominant, or very successful individuals who might wish to monopolize resources. (14069)

The origins of moral values have intrigued scholars for millennia. Darwin saw human morality as derived from animal “social instincts” that transform to a “moral sense or conscience as soon as . . . intellectual powers become . . . well developed.” In a modern perspective, viewing human conscience as a mere by-product of intelligence is an oversimplification. Boehm convincingly argues that additional processes and factors such as moralistic punishment, internalization of culturally enforced norms, symbolic language and gossiping, and social selection for altruism and self-restraint applied by groups to its members need to be considered. That notwithstanding, identifying evolutionary roots for and the dynamics of genetically controlled egalitarian social instincts is a necessary step in getting a better understanding of the origins of a uniquely human sense of right and wrong. (14072)

Gfrerer, Nastassja and Michael Taborsky. Working Dogs Cooperate Among One Another by Generalised Reciprocity. Nature Scientific Reports. 7/43867, 2017. University of Bern behavioral ecologists quantify and aver this altruistic, do unto others, propensity as the naturally preference of social interactivity. We would do well to heed in our human, supposedly religious, societies which are actually rift with the opposite, competitive, me vs. We, behaviors.

Cooperation by generalised reciprocity implies that individuals apply the decision rule “help anyone if helped by someone”. This mechanism has been shown to generate evolutionarily stable levels of cooperation, but as yet it is unclear how widely this cooperation mechanism is applied among animals. Dogs (Canis familiaris) are highly social animals with considerable cognitive potential and the ability to differentiate between individual social partners. Here we show that dogs trained in an instrumental cooperative task to provide food to a social partner help conspecifics more often after receiving help from a dog before. Apparently, dogs use the simple decision rule characterizing generalised reciprocity, although they are probably capable of using the more complex decision rule of direct reciprocity: “help someone who has helped you”. However, generalized reciprocity involves lower information processing costs and is therefore a cheaper cooperation strategy. Our results imply that generalised reciprocity might be applied more commonly than direct reciprocity also in other mutually cooperating animals. (Abstract)

Ghoul, Melanie, et al. Sociomics: Using Omic Approaches to Understand Social Evolution. Trends in Genetics. 33/6, 2017. To advance these studies, since genetic techniques have gained a robust maturity, Oxford University and New York University zoologists including Stuart West propose a novel application of methylation, transcriptome, metabolome, and proteome methods. By their lights, the presence of symbiosis, labor division, cooperators or cheators, and more can be illumed in animal groupings. A starter level would be microbial and insect colonies where whole-genome sequencing is related to social dynamics. See also Division of Labor in Microorganisms: An Evolutionary Perspective by West and Guy Cooper in Nature Microbiology (14/11, 2016).

All of life is social, from genes cooperating to form organisms, to animals cooperating to form societies. Omic approaches offer exceptional opportunities to solve major outstanding problems in the study of how sociality evolves. First, omics can be used to clarify the extent and form of sociality in natural populations. This is especially useful in species where it is difficult to study social traits in natural populations, such as bacteria and other microbes. Second, omics can be used to examine the consequences of sociality for genome evolution and gene expression. This is especially useful in cases where there is clear variation in the level of sociality, such as the social insects. Major tasks for the future are to apply these approaches to a wider range of non-model organisms, and to move from exploratory analyses to the testing of evolutionary theory. (Abstract)

Giardina, Irene. Collective Behavior in Animal Groups: Theoretical Models and Empirical Studies. HFSP Journal. 2/4, 2008. This free online and paper journal stands for Human Frontier Science Program: Frontiers of Interdisciplinary Research in the Life Sciences, and is supported by a research consortium from Tokyo to Strasbourg. Living up to its mission, this report by a Centre for Statistical Mechanics and Complexity, University of Rome, (Google for info) physicist achieves a novel advance for nonlinear science. As not possible earlier, not only is an exemplary complex, agent-based self-organization described for avian bird flocks, specifically starlings, but this activity, widespread across animal communities from microbes and insects to primates and economies, is seen to imply and spring from a general, independent, informative source. A vital discernment is thus achieved of such a dual, dimension which has been heretofore missed or rejected so that only relative chaotic complexity is apparent, sans an endemic, natural direction or drive.

Collective phenomena in animal groups have attracted much attention in the last years, becoming one of the hottest topics in ethology. There are various reasons for this. On the one hand, animal grouping provides a paradigmatic example of self-organization, where collective behavior emerges in absence of centralized control. The mechanism of group formation, where local rules for the individuals lead to a coherent global state, is very general and transcends the detailed nature of its components. (Abstract, 205)

In this context, the origin and emergence of collective behavior have been understood in great detail, and this is why physics is often regarded as an inspiration source for interpreting and modeling collective phenomena in other fields. There are at least two main facts…. (i) A system of individual units that interact locally in space can generate, under appropriate conditions, an ordered state with collective global properties. (ii) The mechanisms leading to collective behavior are very general; for example, the large scale features of many order-disorder transitions do not depend on the details of the local interaction….what is known as universality. These two properties, locality of the interactions and universality, have been thoroughly proven in physics. (206)

Goldstone, Robert and Todd Gureckis. Collective Behavior. Topics in Cognitive Science. 1/3, 2009. A survey article for an issue about how novel insights via nonlinear dynamics and other methods now quantify that creaturely groups, especially human communities, can achieve and possess “an integrity of their own” which, as information processing systems, gains a modicum of cognitive acuity. See also Moussaid, et al, below from the same issue. The upshot, which guides this website, as the authors do allude, is that worldwide humankind ought to be seen, in our internetworked century, as coming to its own palliative knowledge.

The resurgence of interest in collective behavior is in large part due to tools recently made available for conducting laboratory experiments on groups, statistical methods for analyzing large data sets reflecting social interactions, the rapid growth of a diverse variety of online self-organized collectives, and computational modeling methods for understanding both universal and scenario-specific social patterns. We consider case studies of collective behavior along four attributes: the primary motivation of individuals within the group, kinds of interactions among individuals, typical dynamics that result from these interactions, and characteristic outcomes at the group level. With this framework, we compare the collective patterns of noninteracting decision makers, bee swarms, groups forming paths in physical and abstract spaces, sports teams, cooperation and competition for resource usage, and the spread and extension of innovations in an online community. (Abstract, 412)

Gomez-Nava, Luis, et al. Fish Shoals Resemble a Stochastic Excitable system Driven by Environmental Perturbations. Nature Physics. May, 2023. Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin Institute of Technology, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, and Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco, Mexico including Pawel Romanczuk (search) and Jens Krause continue their collegial project by to further quantify nature’s persistent self-organization such that any member/group in motion tends toward an optimum criticality. Whether flock, herd, pod or swarm, the Metazoan lineages from invertebrate slime molds and insects to primates and ourselves are being found to exemplify this universal viability. At the same while, we log Universality of Critical Dynamics with Finite Entanglement in (arXiv:2301.09681, Sherman) about quantum occasions.

Groups of animals can perform coordinated collective behaviours that confer benefits for members by information exchanges and protection from predators. Our interest is that these feature could arise at critical points in structural and functional states which respond best to external stimuli. We cite prior work that these conditions exemplify self-organized systems at criticality, but evidence in the wild is sparse. Here we show repetitive and rhythmic dive cascades under high risk exhibit a stochastic phase driven by environmental perturbations. Together with an agent-based model, such dense schools locate at a critical point between high and low diving activities which allows information to efficiently propagate. (Abstract excerpt)

Gordon, Deborah. Measuring Collective Behavior: An Ecological Approach. Theory in Biosciences. Online September, 2019. For a special Quantifying Collectivity issue, the Stanford University bioecologist and expert ant colony student in the Arizona desert adds one more affirmation of life’s organic persistence to join into social groupings for their many benefits.

Collective behavior is ubiquitous throughout nature. Many systems from brains to ant colonies are regulated by interactions among the individual participants without central control. Interactions create feedback that produce the outcome, the behavior that we observe: Brains via neurons think and remember, ant colonies collect food or move nests, flocks of birds turn, human societies develop new forms of social organization. But the processes by which interactions produce outcomes are as diverse as the behavior itself. Just as convergent evolution has led to organs, such as the eye, that are similar in function but based on different physiological processes, so it has led to forms of collective behavior that appear similar but arise from different social processes. (Abstract)

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