Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Adaptive suicide: is a kin-selected driver of fatal behaviours likely?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Author(s)

Rosalind K. Humphreys, Graeme D. Ruxton

School/Research organisations

Abstract

While several manipulated host behaviours are accepted as extended phenotypes of parasites, there remains debate over whether other altered behaviours in hosts following parasitic invasion represent cases of parasite manipulation, host defence or the pathology of infection. One particularly controversial subject is 'suicidal behaviour' in infected hosts. The host-suicide hypothesis proposes that host death benefits hosts doomed to reduced direct fitness by protecting kin from parasitism and therefore increasing inclusive fitness. However, adaptive suicide has been difficult to demonstrate conclusively as a host adaptation in studies on social or clonal insects, for whom high relatedness should enable greater inclusive fitness benefits. Following discussion of empirical and theoretical works from a behavioural ecology perspective, this review finds that the most persuasive evidence for selection of adaptive suicide comes from bacteria. Despite a focus on parasites, driven by the existing literature, the potential for the evolution of adaptive suicidal behaviour in hosts is also considered to apply to cases of infection by pathogens, provided that the disease has a severe effect on direct fitness and that suicidal behaviour can affect pathogen transmission dynamics. Suggestions are made for future research and a broadening of the possible implications for coevolution between parasites and hosts.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number20180823
JournalBiology Letters
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2019

    Research areas

  • Adaptive suicide, Behavioural ecology, Evolution, Host suicide hypothesis, Inclusive fitness, Parasitism

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Birdsbesafe® collar cover reduces bird predation by domestic cats (Felis catus)

    Pemberton, C. & Ruxton, G. D., 8 Oct 2019, In : Journal of Zoology. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Secondary dispersal mechanisms of winged seeds: a review

    der Weduwen, D. & Ruxton, G. D., Oct 2019, In : Biological Reviews. 94, 5, p. 1830-1838 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  3. Deconstructing collective building in social insects: implications for ecological adaptation and evolution

    Invernizzi, E. & Ruxton, G. D., 8 Aug 2019, In : Insectes Sociaux. First Online, 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  4. The Hermans–Rasson test as a powerful alternative to the Rayleigh test for circular statistics in biology

    Landler, L., Ruxton, G. D. & Malkemper, E. P., 7 Aug 2019, In : BMC Ecology. 19, 8 p., 30.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. A theory for investment across defences triggered at different stages of a predator-prey encounter

    Wang, L., Ruxton, G. D., Cornell, S. J., Speed, M. P. & Broom, M., 21 Jul 2019, In : Journal of Theoretical Biology. 473, p. 9-19 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Biology Letters (Journal)

    Graeme Douglas Ruxton (Editor)
    2012 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Biology Letters (Journal)

    Karen Anne Spencer (Member of editorial board)
    1 Apr 2011

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Biology Letters (Journal)

    David Michael Shuker (Member of editorial board)
    2011

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Biology Letters (Journal)

    Josep Call (Member of editorial board)
    20072013

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  5. Biology Letters (Journal)

    Richard William Byrne (Member of editorial board)
    20072012

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Increases in local richness (α-diversity) following invasion are offset by biotic homogenization in a biodiversity hotspot

    Kortz, A. R. & Magurran, A. E., 15 May 2019, In : Biology Letters. 15, 5, 20190133.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Mid-sized groups perform best in a collective decision task in sticklebacks

    Ward, A. J. W. & Webster, M. M., 2 Oct 2019, In : Biology Letters. 15, 10, 20190335.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Raw-material selectivity in hook-tool-crafting New Caledonian crows

    Klump, B. C., Cantat, M. & Rutz, C., Feb 2019, In : Biology Letters. 15, 2, 6 p., 20180836.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Seasonal contrasts in individual consistency of oriental honey buzzards' migration

    Sugasawa, S. & Higuchi, H., Jun 2019, In : Biology Letters. 15, 6, 5 p., 20190131.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 258413530

Top