Evolutionary Constraints on Social Organization from Disease Risks

Nina Fefferman (March 17, 2011)

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As social insects have evolved division of labor and colony organization to accomplish tasks necessary to their survival, their social and collaborative environment should make them more and more susceptible to risk from infectious disease. Since they haven't been forced to extinction yet, they're clearly doing something right. Some have evolved individual physiological protections, others have behaviorally mediated individual responses/defenses, and a few have been shown to have collaborative behavioral defenses. In this talk, we'll discuss a set of models that explore whether or not the entire social organization of colonies themselves shows evidence of evolutionary selective pressures from disesase risks.