Kin-recognition mechanisms allow helping behaviors to be directed preferentially toward related individuals, and could be expected to evolve in many cases. However, genetic kin recognition requires a genetic polymorphism on which recognition is based, and kin discriminating behaviors will affect the evolution of such polymorphism. It is unclear whether genetic polymorphisms used in kin recognition should be maintained by extrinsic selection pressures or not, as opposite conclusions have been reached by analytical one-locus models and simulations exploring different population structures. We analyze a two-locus model in a spatially subdivided population following the island model of dispersal between demes of finite size. We find that in the absence of mutation, selection eliminates polymorphism in most cases, except with extreme spatial structure and low recombination. With mutation, the population may reach a stable limit cycle over which both loci are polymorphic; however, the average frequency of conditional helping can be high only under strong structure and low recombination. Finally, we review evidence for extrinsic selection maintaining polymorphism on which kin recognition is based.
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Vol. 61 • No. 10