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individual selectionIndividualselektion (ger.)

  • Selection on the level of individuals, i.e. due to characteristics of individuals.
    Darwin speaks of instinct and adaptation as being at first imperfect, and as being gradually improved by individual selection
    Anonymus (1861). [Rez. Bree, M.R. (1860). Species not Transmutable, nor the Result of Secondary Causes; being a Critical Examination of Mr Darwin’s Work entitled “Origin and Variation of Species”]. Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal 8, 128-133: 133.
    Paleontology has, indeed, nothing to say upon individual selection, but chapters upon unsuccessful species and genera
    Osborn, H.F. (1890). The paleontological evidence for the transmission of acquired characters. Science 15, 110-111: 111.

    Supposing a superior community (of men, for instance), without individual selection within itself, causes the elimination of an inferior community, then, as a consequence, the former spreads, but does undergo evolution.

    Reid, G.A. (1897). The present evolution of man. Science 6, 368-372: 371. 


    take a problem of this kind involving group, and not individual, selection. Let a large general population break itself up at random into groups, and let us suppose these groups, not individuals among there, to carry on a struggle for existence—an inter-group, not an intra-group, struggle. Then, if it be an advantage to a, group that its members shall be among themselves close to a type, i.e., less variable, then the more normal groups will survive, for variability is positively correlated with skewness. Now suppose each group to be periodically subdivided at random into new groups—the mathematical description of some process of group reproduction—then we see how normal distribution miay be a result of a stringent inter-group selection of groups whose individuals have the closest resemblance to each other-intra-group resemblance.

    Pearson, K. & Filon, L.N.G. (1898). Mathematical contributions to the theory of evolution, IV. On the probable errors of frequency constants and on the influence of random selection on variation and correlation. Philos. Trans. Roy. Soc. London Ser. A 191, 229-311: 278.


    Individual selection […] is natural selection working upon individuals who are brought into competition with one another for life and death.

    Baldwin, J.M. (1899). The social and the extra-social. American Journal of Sociology 4, 649-655: 651.


    the colony is the unit of selection, to the exclusion of individual selection within the colony

    Sturtevant, A.H. (1938). Essays on evolution, II. On the effect of selection on social insects. Quart. Rev. Biol. 13, 74-76: 75.


    there is no need to invoke group selection to explain the evolution of individual breeding territories, or the adjustment of territory size to food supply or to variations in the habitat. But there are other characteristics of animals which are more difficult to explain by individual selection; sex is an obvious and importand example, but difficulties also arise in explaining ‘altruistic’ characters, such as alarm notes or injury-feigning in birds.

    Maynard Smith, J. (1964). Group selection and kin selection. Nature 201, 1145-1147: 1145.