Where the evolution of a trait is affected by selection at more than one hierarchical level, it is often useful to compare the magnitude of selection at each level by asking how much of the total evolutionary change is attributable to each level of selection. Three statistical partitioning techniques, each designed to answer this question, are compared, in relation to a simple multilevel selection model in which a trait's evolution is affected by both individual and group selection. None of the three techniques is wholly satisfactory: one implies that group selection can operate even if individual fitness is determined by individual phenotype alone, whereas the other two imply that group selection can operate even if there is no variance in group fitness. This has significant implications both for our understanding of what the term “multilevel selection” means and for the traditional concept of group selection.
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Vol. 58 • No. 3