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Evolutionary TheoryA Hierarchical Perspective$
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Niles Eldredge, Telmo Pievani, Emanuele Serrelli, and Ilya Tëmkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226426051

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226426198.001.0001

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Multilevel Selection in a Broader Hierarchical Perspective

Multilevel Selection in a Broader Hierarchical Perspective

Chapter:
(p.174) Chapter 8 Multilevel Selection in a Broader Hierarchical Perspective
Source:
Evolutionary Theory
Author(s):

Telmo Pievani

Andrea Parravicini

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226426198.003.0013

Since Darwin, multilevel selection has been the key concept of the hierarchical approach to evolution. The debate around the significance of group selection as an evolutionary phenomenon (in both an early controversial version and subsequent mathematical definition) has been the main entrance to multilevel selection theories. We present here a historical sketch of the debate prior to the formalization proposed by Samir Okasha. We also consider two extensions of Okasha’s multilevel theory: the diachronic perspective made possible by the study of major evolutionary transitions; the cross-level exaptive by-products. The double hierarchy, first proposed by Niles Eldredge and Stanley Salthe is a different kind of multilevel approach to evolution that avoids some theoretical impasses produced by a strictly selection-centered approach to extend the levels of evolutionary change. We argue that a dual hierarchical approach has a major heuristic power in order to embrace the complexity of evolutionary phenomena, from molecules to ecosystems, and is a candidate for an updated and unifying meta-theory of evolutionary patterns.

Keywords:   group selection, multilevel selection, major transitions, double hierarchy, exaptation, crosslevel byproducts

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