The evolution of insect societies

Robert E. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The organization and evolution of insect societies has amazed natural historians since Aristotle. Charles Darwin considered social insects to be a major difficulty for his theory of evolution by natural selection because they demonstrate a rich diversity of adaptation among sterile workers leading to a complex division of labour, something that should not occur if variation in individual reproductive success is the grist for the mill of natural selection. This article shows how division of labour can self-organize from groups of cohabiting individuals without the necessity of a past history of natural selection for co-operative behaviour. It then explores how more complex social systems may evolve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science


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