Malthusian Relativityι**=7/3ψ
Life history evolution - traits & transitions

Offspring workers

Offspring workers may evolve from a diminishing return in the interactive quality of sexual reproduction

It is not self-evident that large reproducing units necessarily resemble the cooperative families and eusocial colonies on Earth, where there is sexual reproduction between a female and a male, and the remaining non-replicating individuals are sexually produced offspring workers.

Alternatives include asexual systems with non-reproducing offspring workers, sexual systems with asexually produced offspring workers, and higher-level sexual systems where females mate with several males with each sexual individual providing only a small fraction of the genome in the offspring. For a model that allows for the evolution of these alternative systems, it is intriguing that the population dynamic feed-back of interactive competition is selecting for the cooperative families and eusocial colonies on Earth; including differences in the ploidy level of the genome between termites and hymenoptera (see section on ploidy level of genome, and Witting, 1997, 2002, 2007).


  • Witting, L. 1997. A general theory of evolution. By means of selection by density dependent competitive interactions. Peregrine Publisher, Århus, 330 pp, URL
  • Witting, L. 2002. From asexual to eusocial reproduction by multilevel selection by density dependent competitive interactions. Theoretical Population Biology 61:171--195.
  • Witting, L. 2007. Behavioural interactions selecting for symmetry and asymmetry in sexual reproductive systems of eusocial species. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 69:1167--1198.