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In a recent paper, Traulsen and Nowak use a multilevel selection model to show that cooperation can be favored by group selection in finite populations [Traulsen A, Nowak M (2006) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:10952-10955]. The authors challenge the view that kin selection may be an appropriate interpretation of their results and state that group selection is a distinctive process "that permeates evolutionary processes from the emergence of the first cells to eusociality and the economics of nations." In this paper, we start by addressing Traulsen and Nowak's challenge and demonstrate that all their results can be obtained by an application of kin selection theory. We then extend Traulsen and Nowak's model to life history conditions that have been previously studied. This allows us to highlight the differences and similarities between Traulsen and Nowak's model and typical kin selection models and also to broaden the scope of their results. Our retrospective analyses of Traulsen and Nowak's model illustrate that it is possible to convert group selection models to kin selection models without disturbing the mathematics describing the net effect of selection on cooperation.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





6736 - 6739


Animals, Life Cycle Stages, Models, Genetic, Models, Statistical, Retrospective Studies, Selection, Genetic