biological altruism

source: wikipedia


Maynard Smith, in the preface to Evolution and the Theory of Games, writes, "[p]aradoxically, it has turned out that game theory is more readily applied to biology than to the field of economic behaviour for which it was originally designed". Evolutionary game theory has been used to explain many seemingly incongruous phenomena in nature.[3]

One such phenomenon is known as biological altruism. This is a situation in which an organism appears to act in a way that benefits other organisms and is detrimental to itself. This is distinct from traditional notions of altruism because such actions are not conscious, but appear to be evolutionary adaptations to increase overall fitness. Examples can be found in species ranging from vampire bats that regurgitate blood they have obtained from a night's hunting and give it to group members who have failed to feed, to worker bees that care for the queen bee for their entire lives and never mate, to Vervet monkeys that warn group members of a predator's approach, even when it endangers that individual's chance of survival.[4] All of these actions increase the overall fitness of a group, but occur at a cost to the individual.