A new study has revealed that manipulation might be responsible for the evolutionary origins of some helpful or altruistic behaviour.
Manipulation not only occurs in humans and animals but also at the cellular level, such as among cells in a multicellular organism, or in parasites, which can alter the behavior of their hosts.
In the study, the researchers at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis developed a mathematical model for the evolution of manipulated behavior and applied it to maternal manipulation in eusocial organisms, such as ants, wasps, and bees, which form colonies with reproductive queens and sterile workers.
In the model, mothers produce two broods, and they manipulate the first-brood offspring to stay in the maternal site and help raise the second brood.
Manipulated offspring of the first-brood stay and help to raise the second brood. Alternatively, first-brood offspring can resist manipulation and leave.
The researcher showed that an offspring's resistance to manipulation may often fail to evolve, if the costs of resistance are high. In a sense, then, helping or altruistic behavior is coerced through manipulation.
The study is published the journal American Naturalist.