Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition
Edward O. Wilson
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Harvard University Press is proud to announce the re-release of the complete original version of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis--now available in paperback for the first time. When this classic work was first published in 1975, it created a new discipline and started a tumultuous round in the age-old nature versus nurture debate. Although voted by officers and fellows of the international Animal Behavior Society the most important book on animal behavior of all time, Sociobiology is probably more widely known as the object of bitter attacks by social scientists and other scholars who opposed its claim that human social behavior, indeed human nature, has a biological foundation. The controversy surrounding the publication of the book reverberates to the present day.
In the introduction to this Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition, Edward O. Wilson shows how research in human genetics and neuroscience has strengthened the case for a biological understanding of human nature. Human sociobiology, now often called evolutionary psychology, has in the last quarter of a century emerged as its own field of study, drawing on theory and data from both biology and the social sciences.
For its still fresh and beautifully illustrated descriptions of animal societies, and its importance as a crucial step forward in the understanding of human beings, this anniversary edition of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis will be welcomed by a new generation of students and scholars in all branches of learning.
extreme, it does pay to make a heavy reproductive effort, even at the cost of life, if the temporary availability of empty habitats guarantees that at least a few of one’s offspring will find the resources they need in order to survive and to reproduce. Most of the r strategists’ offspring will perish during the dispersal phase, but a few are likely to find an empty habitat in which to renew the life cycle. The degree of fluctuation of a population is not all that determines the fate of the r
which case the one forming the largest, best-organized groups dominates the others. MacMillan (1964) found that among seven rodent species living in the semidesert of southern California, the largest routinely dominate the smaller. Encounters seldom lead to fighting, because the subordinate species flees at the sight of the larger. In Yellowstone National Park, the large mammals advance or retreat according to the following descending dominance order: adult human beings, bison, elk, mule deer,
become most strenuous in the presence of estrous females, but even then they seldom result in serious injury. Coalitions of the kind seen in higher primates appear to exist among the male elephant groups. Hendrichs and Hendrichs observed a “protected threat” maneuver very similar to that reported independently in the hamadryas baboon by Kummer (see Chapter 26). That is, smaller bulls were able to dominate middle-sized ones by the mere proximity of senior bulls. The largest animals intimidated the
socioeconomic classes. Suppose, for example, there are two classes, each beginning with only a 1 percent frequency of the homozygotes of the upward-mobile gene. Suppose further that 50 percent of the homozygotes in the lower class are transferred upward in each generation. Then in only ten generations, depending on the relative sizes of the groups, the upper class will be comprised of as many as 20 percent homozygotes or more and the lower class of as few as 0.5 percent or less. Using a similar
or a single reproductive effort before death. (Modified from Gadgil and Bossert, 1970.) J. M. Emlen (1970), following on W. D. Hamilton’s analysis of senescence (1966), used the Euler-Lotka equation to explore the effects of changes in the environment on the evolution of the survivorship and fertility schedules—those disasters or strokes of good fortune that alter conditions for certain of the age groups. How would the optimal schedules be changed, for example, if a new predator entered the