Project: Research project

Grant Details


The general objective of the proposed research is to develop a unified
theory of the evolution of intraspecific interactions built upon the axioms
of population genetics. Most human diseases, pathogens and parasites are
transmitted during social interactions. The theory to be developed studies
the effects of these interactions on the biological fitness of the
individuals and predicts how these effects have evolved. Five specific
projects are proposed all relating to this general theme. First, since
many social groups are small and centered around the family or more
extended kinship ties (this is most certainly true of the recent
evolutionary past of the human species), the effects of finite population
size on the evolution of interactions is to be studied in family-structured
populations. A variety of techniques will be used including computer
simulation and analytic analysis of a stochastic model. Second, a
methodology is proposed to study the evolution of specific genetic systems
which are conducive to certain social interactions. Third, since the most
common interaction is most species is mating between the sexes, the
evolution of sexual dimorphism is to be studied by techniques based on
quantitative genetics and the theory of sexual selection. Fourth, it is
proposed that a more unified theory of social evolution can be constructed
around the idea of "behavioral structure". The idea of behavioral
structure encorporates both interactions in kin-structured populations and
interactions among individuals that can modify their activities through
learning. Both learning and kinship are especially relevant to the
evolution of interactions between humans. Finally, I propose to study the
evolution of genetic constraints which prevent populations from attaining
the states predicted by game theory. Game theory is commonly used to study
evolutionary problems but there have been few analyses of the sensitivity
of its predictions to the complications arising from sexual reproduction.
Effective start/end date3/1/852/28/96


  • Medicine(all)


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