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The provision of intergenerational care, via the Grandmother Hypothesis, has been implicated in the evolution of postfertile longevity, particularly in humans. However, if grandmothering does provide fitness benefits, a key question is why has it evolved so infrequently? We investigate this question with a combination of life-history and evolutionary game theory. We derive simple eligibility and stability thresholds, both of which must be satisfied if intergenerational care is first to evolve and then to persist in a population. As one threshold becomes easier to fulfill, the other becomes more difficult, revealing a conflict between the two. As such, we suggest that, in fact, we should expect the evolution of grandmothering to be rare.

Original publication

DOI

10.1002/ece3.2958

Type

Journal article

Journal

Ecol Evol

Publication Date

05/2017

Volume

7

Pages

3574 - 3578

Keywords

evolutionary game theory, grandmother hypothesis, grandparent–grandoffspring conflict, mathematical ecology