Kin selection and the evolutionary theory of aging

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Researchers are increasingly recognizing that social effects influence the evolution of aging. Kin selection theory provides a framework for analyzing such effects because an individual's longevity and mortality schedule may alter its inclusive fitness via effects on the fitness of relatives. Kin-selected effects on aging have been demonstrated both by models of intergenerational transfers of investment by caregivers and by spatially explicit population models with limited dispersal. They also underlie coevolution between the degree and form of sociality and patterns of aging. In this review I critically examine and synthesize theory and data concerning these processes. I propose a classification, stemming from kin selection theory, of social effects on aging and describe a hypothesis for kin-selected conflict over parental time of death in systems with resource inheritance. I conclude that systematically applying kin selection theory to the analysis of the evolution of aging adds considerably to our general understanding of aging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-128
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2007

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