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Skew Selection: Nature Favors a Trickle-Down Distribution of Resources in Ants

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  • Deby Cassill

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Abstract

Synopsis: According to skew selection, ant queens are neither ruthlessly selfish nor blindly altruistic; they are shrewd investors. The goal of shrewd investors is not to win the game, but to continue play over evolutionary time. Skew selection describes a set of investment strategies employed by players such as ant queens to keep the game going. First, ant queens acquire excess resources—more than they need for immediate survival and reproduction. Second, queens invest a portion of their excess resources in personal capital to maintain dominant status. Third, queens also invest a portion of excess resources in low-quality offspring to gain group capital. Fourth, when investing in group capital, resources are distributed in a trickle-down fashion to maintain the largest number of diminishing-quality offspring possible. The trickle-down redistribution allows the shrewd queen to increase group size (safety in numbers) and, at the same time, maintain individual status (safety in position). According to skew selection, queens invest in low-quality offspring (sterile workers) to buffer hereself and her high-quality offspring from agents of death such as war, predation or disease. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Suggested Citation

  • Deby Cassill, 2003. "Skew Selection: Nature Favors a Trickle-Down Distribution of Resources in Ants," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 83-96, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:5:y:2003:i:2:p:83-96
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1025823409334
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ted Bergstrom, "undated". "Primogeniture, Monogamy, and Reproductive Success in a Stratified Society," Papers _031, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
    2. Elias Khalil, 2000. "Survival of the Most Foolish of Fools: The Limits of Evolutionary Selection Theory," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 203-220, October.
    3. E. F. Shawyer, 1998. "Editorial," Maritime Policy & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 105-105, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hill, Ronald Paul, 2010. "A naturological approach to marketing exchanges: Implications for the bottom of the pyramid," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(6), pages 602-607, June.
    2. Janet Landa, 2012. "Gordon Tullock’s contributions to bioeconomics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 152(1), pages 203-210, July.
    3. Deby Cassill, 2006. "Why Skew Selection, a Model of Parental Exploitation, Should Replace Kin Selection," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 101-119, August.
    4. Kevin Kniffin, 2009. "Evolutionary perspectives on salary dispersion within firms," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 23-42, April.
    5. Deby Cassill & Indira Kuriachan & S. Vinson, 2007. "A Test of Two Skew Models to Explain Cooperative Breeding," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 19-37, April.
    6. Scott Forbes, 2012. "Parental preference for investment risk incites family strife," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 115-128, July.
    7. Eric Nævdal, 2008. "Animal rationality and implications for resource management: the case of biological reserves for moose and pine," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 145-163, August.
    8. Deby Cassill, 2006. "Book Review," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 283-285, December.

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