chapter  4
12 Pages

Intergroup Selection in the Evolution of Social Systems

ByV. C. Wynne-Edwards

In a recent book I advanced a general proposition which may be summarized in the following way: (1) Animals, especially in the higher phyla, are variously adapted to control their own population densities. (2) The mechanisms involved work homeostatically, adjusting the population density in relation to fluctuating levels of resources; where the limiting resource is food, as it most frequently is, the homeostatic system prevents the population from increasing to densities that would cause overexploitation and the depletion of future yields. (3) The mechanisms depend in part on the substitution of conventional prizes—namely, the possession of territories, homes, living space and similar real property, or of social status as the proximate objects of competition among the members of the group concerned, in place of the actual food itself. (4) Any group of individuals engaged together in such conventional competition automatically constitutes a society, 94all social behavior having sprung originally from this source.