Meeting Abstract

S9-1  Sunday, Jan. 8 07:45 - 08:00  Introduction: what is the importance of individual variation in cooperativeness? DANTZER, Ben; University of Michigan

Animals spend much of their time interacting socially with members of their own species. Forms of animal social behavior range from courtship, mating, and parental care behaviors, to more complex coordinated and cooperative behavior among related or unrelated individuals in group-living species. The evolutionary causes and consequences of such cooperative behavior have been a focus of biological research for nearly two centuries. A number of theoretical models such as those based upon reciprocal cooperation or shared genetic interests predict the conditions under which cooperation is likely to evolve. Although these models have resulted in productive research paradigms that have shaped the formal study of animal behavior for the last half century, recent models suggest that the evolution of cooperation is also heavily influenced by the degree of individual-variation in cooperative behavior as well as the underlying developmental and proximate mechanisms. Individual variation in cooperative behavior and the mechanisms underlying it are not only understudied by empiricists, but also studied in isolation, despite their potential importance for the evolution of cooperation and social organization. The primary aim of this symposium will be to establish new research avenues to study variation in cooperation using both mechanistic and evolutionary explanations. In this presentation, I will introduce the themes of this symposium and present an overview of the apparent importance of individual-variation in cooperative and social behavior using examples from our own research as well as from others.