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beneficial deathnützlicher Tod (ger.)

  • The death of an individual that is beneficial to others, e.g. its offspring, and which is a result of selection in the past.  
    [The] behavior pattern causing the beneficial death of individuals in overcrowded populations may be the result of adaptation within a population system
    Allee, W.C., Emerson, A.E., Park, O., Park, T. & Schmidt, K.P. (1949). Principles of Animal Ecology: 692.

    My first awareness of a motive for Adaptation and Natural Selection came during the 1954-55 academic year while on a teaching fellowship at the University of Chicago. The triggering event may have been a lecture by A.E. Emerson, a renowned ecologist and termite specialist. The lecture dealt with what Emerson termed beneficial death, an idea that included August Weismann’s theory that senescence was evolved to cull the old and impaired from populations so that fitter youthful individuals could take their places.

    Williams, G.C. (1996). Foreword (1996). In: Adaptation and Natural Selection (Princeton 1996), ix-xiv: ix.