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The Nature of NutritionA Unifying Framework from Animal Adaptation to Human Obesity$
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Stephen J. Simpson and David Raubenheimer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691145655

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691145655.001.0001

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From Individuals to Populations and Societies

From Individuals to Populations and Societies

(p.108) Seven From Individuals to Populations and Societies
The Nature of Nutrition

Stephen J. Simpson

David Raubenheimer

Princeton University Press

This chapter analyzes how an individual's nutritional state influences how a group behaves. Mormon crickets, ants, and slime molds illustrate how local nutritional interactions can fashion cohesive, group-level behavioral patterns. In Mormon crickets and locusts, order emerges from a base nutritional response: the attempt to eat your neighbor. While it is true that one consequence of being driven on a cannibalistic forced march is an increased probability of finding better conditions elsewhere, it seems vanishingly unlikely that this has been selected as an emergent property at the level of the migratory band. In contrast, the emergent outcomes arising from nutritional interactions within ant nests and slime mold plasmodia clearly do enhance the evolutionary fitness of the collective entities and their component parts. It is therefore valid to use the term “superorganism” for such systems.

Keywords:   individual nutritional state, local nutritional interactions, group-level behavioral patterns, cannibalism, migration, superorganism

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