Certain arguments concerning the evolution of eusociality form a classic example of the application of the principles of kin selection. These arguments center on the different degrees of relatedness of potential beneficiaries of an individual's efforts, for example a female's higher relatedness to her sisters than to her daughters in a haplodiploid system. This type of reasoning is insufficient to account for the evolution and maintainence of sexual reproduction, because parthenogenic females produce offspring that are more closely related to them than are offspring produced sexually. Among the forces invoked to explain sexual reproduction is deleterious mutation. This factor can be shown to favor eusociality as well, because siblings produced by helping carry fewer deleterious alleles on average than would offspring. The strength of this effect depends on the genomewide deleterious mutation rate, U, and on the selection coefficient, s, associated with deleterious alleles. For small s, the effect depends approximately on the product Us. This phenomenon illustrates that an assumption implicit in some analyses—that the relatedness of an individual to an actor is all that matters to its value to that actor—can fail for the evolution of eusociality as it does for the evolution of sex.
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Vol. 56 • No. 12