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Evolution: International Journal Of Organic Evolution


Both individual and group behavior can influence individual fitness, but multilevel selection is rarely quantified on social behaviors. Social networks provide a unique opportunity to study multilevel selection on social behaviors, as they describe complex social traits and patterns of interaction at both the individual and group levels. In this study, we used contextual analysis to measure the consequences of both individual network position and group network structure on individual fitness in experimental populations of forked fungus beetles (Bolitotherus cornutus) with two different resource distributions. We found that males with high individual connectivity (strength) and centrality (betweenness) had higher mating success. However, group network structure did not influence their mating success. Conversely, we found that individual network position had no effect on female reproductive success but that females in populations with many social interactions experienced lower reproductive success. The strength of individual-level selection in males and group-level selection in females intensified when resources were clumped together, showing that habitat structure influences multilevel selection. Individual and emergent group social behavior both influence variation in components of individual fitness, but impact the male mating success and female reproductive success differently, setting up intersexual conflicts over patterns of social interactions at multiple levels.


Bolitotherus cornutus, contextual analysis, multilevel selection, resource distribution, sexual conflict, social behavior


This work is freely available courtesy of University of Chicago Press.

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