Convergent Evolution of Agriculture in Insects and Humans II

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The evolution of agriculture among Attini (leaf-cutting ants), Macrotermitinae (termites), Xyleborini (ambrosia beetles), and Hominini (humans) seems a remarkable case of convergent evolution. There appear to be at least nine independent origins of agriculture among the insects, and at least seven among humans. A working group held on August 28 and 29, 2014 used a comparative framework to explore (1) the processes of agricultural evolution, (2) the practices needed to maintain an agricultural food-getting strategy, and (3) the effects of agriculture on social organization and behavior among these disparate groups. The working group seemed to provide promise that further research would help us to identify general evolutionary processes underlying this unique food-getting strategy.

During 2015 working group participants were asked to code data on their species of expertise using the codebook that can be found on the Data and Results page. The organizer (Peregrine) also developed a set of general findings from the initial working group and a set of hypotheses to be tested with the data generated (this can also be found on the Data and Results page). The purpose of this working group is to come together and evaluate the general findings and hypotheses using the data generated during the past year and a half.