Evolutionary theorists have long been interested in the conditions that permit the evolution of altruistic cooperation. Recent work has demonstrated that altruistic donation can evolve in surprisingly simple models, in which agents base their decisions to donate solely on the similarity of evolved “tags” relative to evolved tag-difference tolerances. There is disagreement, however, about the conditions under which tag-mediated altruism will in fact evolve. Here we vary two critical parameters in a standard model of tag-mediated altruism—genetic stability and territorial structure—and show that altruism evolves in a wide range of conditions. We demonstrate the evolution of significant levels of altruism even when the immediate costs to donors equal the benefits to recipients. We describe the mechanism that permits the emergence of altruism in the model as a form of kin selection that is facilitated by interactions between altruism, genetic drift, and fecundity.

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