Academic Field

Environmental Sciences, Study, Engineering

Faculty Mentor Name

William M Shields

Presentation Title

The Touch of Nature Has Made the Whole World Kin: Interspecies Kin Selection in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

The unequal distribution of legal protections on equally endangered species has been attributed to the “charisma” and “cuteness” of protected species. However, the theory of kin selection, which predicts that the genetic relationship between organisms is proportional to the amount of cooperation between them, offers an evolutionary explanation for this phenomenon. In this thesis, it was hypothesized that if the unequal distribution of legal protections on endangered species is a result of kin selection, then the genetic similarity between a species and humanity is proportional to the legal protections on that species. This hypothesis was tested by analyzing the taxonomic classifications of species protected in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The results of this analysis support this hypothesis for organisms with greater genetic similarity to humanity (i.e. in the kingdom Animalia, in the phylum Chordata, in the class Mammalia, in the order Primates, and in the family Hominidae) were afforded more legal protections in CITES than organisms with less genetic similarity to humanity. These results indicate that wildlife conservation laws are not “ecocentric” laws that recognize the “intrinsic worth” of non-human species, but anthropocentric laws that recognize the genetic worth that non-human species have in increasing the indirect fitness of humanity. Also, these results suggest that kin selection can operate between species as opposed to just within species, which indicates the existence of interspecies kin selection. Finally, the existence of interspecies kin selection suggests that kin selection could play a role in interspecies cooperation.

Keywords

kin selection, interspecies, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, ecocentric, anthropocentric

Start Date

10-4-2015 9:30 AM

End Date

10-4-2015 11:00 AM

Location

Hartwell Hall 120

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Apr 10th, 9:30 AM Apr 10th, 11:00 AM

The Touch of Nature Has Made the Whole World Kin: Interspecies Kin Selection in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Hartwell Hall 120

The unequal distribution of legal protections on equally endangered species has been attributed to the “charisma” and “cuteness” of protected species. However, the theory of kin selection, which predicts that the genetic relationship between organisms is proportional to the amount of cooperation between them, offers an evolutionary explanation for this phenomenon. In this thesis, it was hypothesized that if the unequal distribution of legal protections on endangered species is a result of kin selection, then the genetic similarity between a species and humanity is proportional to the legal protections on that species. This hypothesis was tested by analyzing the taxonomic classifications of species protected in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The results of this analysis support this hypothesis for organisms with greater genetic similarity to humanity (i.e. in the kingdom Animalia, in the phylum Chordata, in the class Mammalia, in the order Primates, and in the family Hominidae) were afforded more legal protections in CITES than organisms with less genetic similarity to humanity. These results indicate that wildlife conservation laws are not “ecocentric” laws that recognize the “intrinsic worth” of non-human species, but anthropocentric laws that recognize the genetic worth that non-human species have in increasing the indirect fitness of humanity. Also, these results suggest that kin selection can operate between species as opposed to just within species, which indicates the existence of interspecies kin selection. Finally, the existence of interspecies kin selection suggests that kin selection could play a role in interspecies cooperation.