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© 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Kin selection describes a process by which a gene can spread through a population through social effects on reproductive success. Kin selection provides an explanation for how a gene for altruism can spread even if it lowers the fitness of the carrier. The process depends on the fact that beneficiaries of an altruistic act have a higher probability of sharing a gene relative to the population as a whole. The basic theory of kin selection is outlined, examples of evidence supporting the theory given, and general applications of the theory are described.

Original publication





Book title

Encyclopedia of Ecology, Five-Volume Set

Publication Date



2057 - 2060