Evo-Devo of Social Behavior

Kate E. Ihle, Gro V. Amdam, Adam G. Dolezal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The interdisciplinary field of evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) combined the strengths of developmental biology with insights from molecular evolutionary biology to rapidly advance our understanding of morphological differentiation and the evolution of diverse multicellular life-forms. The same concepts have been applied to the study of the evolution of social behavior to good effect. By treating correlated behavioral and physiological states as units, similar to the developmental modules defined by more traditional evo-devo approaches, evolutionary developmental biologists have identified common ``genetic toolkits'' involved in the transition from solitary to social and eusocial life-histories across independent evolutionary origins of social behavior. Data from the rapidly expanding library of high-quality genomes from organisms across the tree of life has enabled direct tests of the predictions of an evo-devo approach to the evolution of social behavior, demonstrating both the power and limitations of such an approach to explain the evolution of behavioral traits as well as generating new insights into the often shared proximate mechanisms underlying the evolution of social behavior.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEvolutionary Developmental Biology: A Reference Guide
EditorsLaura Nuno de la Rosa, Gerd Müller
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783319330389
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Social evolution
  • Developmental plasticity
  • Phenotypic plasticity


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