May 2006
7372 - 7377

Self-recognition, color signals, and cycles of greenbeard mutualism and altruism


Altruism presents a challenge to evolutionary theory because selection should favor selfish over caring strategies. Greenbeard altruism resolves this paradox by allowing cooperators to identify individuals carrying similar alleles producing a form of genic selection. In side-blotched lizards, genetically similar but unrelated blue male morphs settle on adjacent territories and cooperate. Here we show that payoffs of cooperation depend on asymmetric costs of orange neighbors. One blue male experiences low fitness and buffers his unrelated partner from aggressive orange males despite the potential benefits of defection. We show that recognition behavior is highly heritable in nature, and we map genetic factors underlying color and self-recognition behavior of genetic similarity in both sexes. Recognition and cooperation arise from genomewide factors based on our mapping study of the location of genes responsible for self-recognition behavior, recognition of blue color, and the color locus. Our results provide an example of greenbeard interactions in a vertebrate that are typified by cycles of greenbeard mutualism interspersed with phases of transient true altruism. Such cycles provide a mechanism encouraging the origin and stability of true altruism.



Barry Sinervo, Alexis Chaine, Jean Clobert, Ryan Calsbeek, Lisa Hazard, Lesley Lancaster, Andrew G. McAdam, Suzanne Alonzo, Gwynne Corrigan, Michael E. Hochberg. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 2006, 103 (19) 7372-7377.

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