Catalysis Meeting

Evolution of insect sociality: an integrative modeling approach

PI(s): James H Hunt (North Carolina State Univerisity)
Start Date: 1-Apr-2010
End Date: 31-Mar-2011
Keywords:

Few major questions in biological evolution have been as daunting to solve as the evolution of social behavior. Most research in the discipline has been structured by natural history observations and experiments designed to support a particular concept of how sociality evolved. Theoretical contributions have also been a significant part of the literature, sometimes linked to a favored concept. The discipline is divided into camps of opposing opinion on concepts of social evolution, and there has been scant increase in insight or understanding beyond positions adopted years ago. In this epistemic environment, characterized by contention and stasis, the catalysis group ´┐ŻModeling Insect Sociality´┐Ż has been designed to seek a new way forward. The meeting will assemble evolutionary modelers with a diversity of analytical tool kits together with social insect biologists with a diversity of taxonomic expertise. The intent is to foster discussion in an atmosphere of neutrality with regard to existing concepts of social evolution. A primary objective will be to envision syntheses among modeling approaches and between models and natural history that could begin to bridge the gaps between opposing concepts and between theory and the real world. If potentially tractable syntheses can be envisioned, plans will be made whereby those promising new pathways can be pursued. Progress along novel pathways toward insight and understanding could resolve contention and dissolve the stasis that currently characterizes social evolutionary research.