Sunday, January 5, 2014

Limitations of Inclusive Fitness

Brilliant paper Limitations of inclusive fitness by Benjamin Allena,  Martin A. Nowak and Edward O. Wilson:

Until recently, inclusive fitness has been widely accepted as a general method to explain the evolution of social behavior. Affirming and expanding earlier criticism, we demonstrate that inclusive fitness is instead a limited concept, which exists only for a small subset of evolutionary processes. Inclusive fitness assumes that personal fitness is the sum of additive components caused by individual actions. This assumption does not hold for the majority of evolutionary processes or scenarios. To sidestep this limitation, inclusive fitness theorists have proposed a method using linear regression. On the basis of this method, it is claimed that inclusive fitness theory 

(i) predicts the direction of allele frequency changes, 
(ii) reveals the reasons for these changes
(iii) is as general as natural selection
(iv) provides a universal design principle for evolution. 

In this paper we evaluate these claims, and show that all of them are unfounded. If the objective is to analyze whether mutations that modify social behavior are favored or opposed by natural selection, then no aspect of inclusive fitness theory is needed.

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