Rodrigues AMM & Gardner A (in press) Reproductive value and the evolution of altruism. Trends in Ecology and Evolution doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2021.11.007
Altruism is favored by natural selection provided that it delivers sufficient benefits to relatives. An altruist’s valuation of her relatives depends upon the extent to which they carry copies of her genes – relatedness – and also on the extent to which they are able to transmit their own genes to future generations – reproductive value. However, although relatedness has received a great deal of attention with regard to altruism, reproductive value has been surprisingly neglected. We review how reproductive value modulates patterns of altruism in relation to individual differences in age, sex, and general condition, and discuss how social partners may manipulate each other’s reproductive value to incentivize altruism. This topic presents opportunities for tight interplay between theoretical and empirical research.