'Stupid strategies' could be best for the genes

Feb 28, 2011

Blindly copying what your parents did – no matter how stupid it may seem – could be the best strategy for the long-term success of your genes, according to research by the Universities of Exeter and Bristol.

The findings of the study, published in , show that apparently mindless survival strategies – such as the long-distance migration of many animals to breed at the place they were born – may not be as impractical as they appear.

Using mathematical models, researchers compared the evolutionary success of straightforward copying strategies with that of more dynamic approaches that focused on adapting to new information to make key lifestyle decisions.

Dr Sasha Dall, from Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation in Cornwall, said: "From an individual perspective, sometimes sticking to what your parents did may seem a ridiculously stupid thing to do, especially when they can be out of touch with current events. However, it's a different story when you look at it from the perspective of your .

"What we actually found is, in certain circumstances, it can be a more effective method of ensuring long-term survival of your genes than more nuanced strategies. So, surprisingly, this kind of mindless strategy can actually be more effective than the more sophisticated alternative of adjusting to changes you detect in your environment."

The conclusion centres around what they are calling the 'multiplier effect'. This states that if you are in exactly the right environment for your genotype, you will thrive and breed. So, over generations, more and more individuals will find themselves in conditions to which they are suited if they just do what their parents did.

Those in the wrong place for their genotypes will not do well and others who behave like them will leave fewer and fewer descendents – leaving those being born in the right places to dominate the population.

Professor John McNamara from the Bristol's School of Mathematics added: "The sheer fact you are alive is a big clue, because your parents must have got it right. If you follow their lead, you should get it right too.'

"Using a mathematical model, we've shown this is more successful than the alternative approach of adjusting behaviour to current conditions when the environment changes a bit, but not too much, between generations, and where there is a choice of both good and bad places to be.

"When you try to adapt to your environment, you can make mistakes which could prove costly or even fatal. Also, this approach may require a lot of time and effort – which again could limit the success it brings on an evolutionary basis."

This conclusion explains some of the seemingly impractical lifestyles seen in nature. For example, many sea turtles return to the same beach they were born on to lay their eggs, even though they swim past perfectly good beaches on the way.

While this may not seem like an efficient strategy, in the right conditions it can be a successful way of ensuring the long-term survival of your 'selfish' genes.

Dr Dall said: "This may not seem very smart, but those turtles are actually sticking to the safest bet there could be – the spot where they know their parents successfully gave birth to them.

"We're not saying that this works for every species or all of the time, but it does shed a bit of light on this interesting area of animal behaviour and evolutionary biology."

Explore further: Declining catch rates in Caribbean green turtle fishery may be result of overfishing

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User comments : 9

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hush1
3 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2011
"Using a mathematical model, we've shown mindless survival strategies"


:)
lol
Priceless.
geokstr
1 / 5 (9) Feb 28, 2011
Gosh, does this actually mean that things that have worked successfully in the past might just have been incorporated into a species behavioral patterns because of just that - because they have worked successfully in the past?

But the monumental hubris of the species homo sapiens sapiens knows no bounds. The 1960s me-me-me generation rebelled against tradition in all its forms, throwing out not only the baby with the bath water, but also the bassinet, the nursery room, and then burnt down the whole damn house.

Religion, which was responsible for at least teaching morality - dying. Marriage as a societal construct for socializing the next generation - near death. Age-old methods of teaching reading, writing and arithmetic - abandoned for sex ed, self-esteem raising, and political indoctrination. Thrift - discarded for immediate gratification.

Progressivism at its finest. The New Man is nearly upon us.
hush1
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2011
In light of the adage:
Nothing is forever;

One wonders about the meaning of survivability.

The reseachers' work can not be upheld or defended.

The article is "cartoonique". The researchers expressed with words what cartoonists express with illustrations.

Of course the researchers might not have understood what they wrote and ask:
"What's so funny?"
lol

@geokstr:
All of that, which you regard and define as human, evolves.
Evolves into what? I don't know. Extinction? Immortality?

What do you leave behind when you die?
Will those surviving you say:
He left us the same old, the same old.
So, we will die just like him, as well.

Nothing is forever.
Except change.

Dug
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2011
You have to under stand this study was done... in Great Britain - a place that clings to tradition as if it were the breath of life it self.
Mandan
3 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2011
The 1960s me-me-me generation rebelled against tradition in all its forms, throwing out not only the baby with the bath water, but also the bassinet, the nursery room, and then burnt down the whole damn house.

Religion, which was responsible for at least teaching morality - dying. Marriage as a societal construct for socializing the next generation - near death. Age-old methods of teaching reading, writing and arithmetic - abandoned for sex ed, self-esteem raising, and political indoctrination. Thrift - discarded for immediate gratification.

Progressivism at its finest. The New Man is nearly upon us.


Most of what you cite is consumerism foisted on us by corporate psychological warfare/advertising. Has your preacher ever given a sermon on how the love of money is the root of ALL evil? Nah, it's gays and abortion. So just shop, shop, shop. Everyone's doing it.

The Protestant consumption ethic died with the Protestant work ethic. It wasn't just the left. Log in the eye?
geokstr
1 / 5 (5) Mar 02, 2011
Has your preacher ever given a sermon on how the love of money is the root of ALL evil?

Being a life long atheist, I wouldn't know what any preacher sermonizes about.

How about you? What does St Karl of Marx have to say about this stuff?
Mandan
5 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2011
I've read Marx, but I'm no Marxist. He wasn't entirely incorrect about two or three things, but I prefer Max Weber's explanation for the origins of capitalism.

In fact, corporatocracy is nothing more than capitalist collectivization-- the inverse/opposite of socialist collectivism. And the corporatists spend a great deal of time and profit propagandizing the masses to embrace Big Brother and spend ever more of what they don't have on what they don't need.

Protestantism-- a la Weber-- both facilitated and was at the same time an early control on the excesses of capitalism-- which is the only tool mankind has ever fashioned or "harnessed" which some fools now believe needs no oversight, regulation, bridle, harness, reins, or even braking system. And now that the mainstream Protestant churches have become cheerleaders for what Christ and Paul would have said was the Devil, they are as much to blame for "me, me, me" as the left is-- you Manichaean tool.

Hurt me, hurt you.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 18, 2011
You have to under stand this study was done... in Great Britain - a place that clings to tradition as if it were the breath of life it self.
That's really not true in the least.
BlankVellum
not rated yet Apr 18, 2011
@geokstr

You're an idiot. Don't reproduce.

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