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Sociocomplexity — new paradigms for understanding complex group-level adaptation

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 SOCIOCOMPLEXITY project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the SOCIOCOMPLEXITY project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "SOCIOCOMPLEXITY" about.

world    manifest    theory    direct    fertility    forces    eusociality    striking    biological    adaptive    gene    successful    individuality    context    team    time    poor    disorders    single    complexity    function    neurological    explains    experimental    childhood    genomic    silico    geometric    prevail    led    drivers    timescales    imprinting    arise    phenotypes    evolutionary    yield    levels    inclusive    theoretical    organisms    sometimes    despite    fitness    model    society    tracked    transitions    multilevel    emergence    insights    unable    groups    conflicts    appearance    theories    mismatch    group    drive    fundamental    natural    organization    tractable    data    employ    societies    coordinated    evolve    paradigm    resolve    multidimensional    organism    understand    multiple    synthesize    engagement    integrity    multicellularity    engage    living    quantified    paradigms    computational    drives    social    disrupt    cancers    traits   

Project "SOCIOCOMPLEXITY" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: KY16 9AJ

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Total cost 1˙968˙688 €
 EC max contribution 1˙968˙688 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2017-COG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-05-01   to  2023-04-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

Natural selection explains the appearance of design in the living world. But at what level is adaptive design expected to manifest (gene, organism or society) and what is its function? Adaptation may manifest at multiple levels, and indeed new levels of adaptive individuality may evolve over time – such as with the emergence of multicellularity and eusociality. However, understanding the forces that drive such “major transitions” remains a challenge: current theory, with its focus on single, simple traits, has been unable to engage with issues of complex, coordinated adaptation at the level of the group, and this has led to a striking mismatch between theory and data. In particular, there is currently very poor understanding of what drives conflicts within groups and how group-level adaptation can sometimes prevail despite these conflicts. My research team will develop new theoretical and in silico experimental paradigms for studying complex, group-level adaptation to resolve these problems. We will: (1) synthesize the theories of inclusive fitness and multilevel selection to allow direct engagement with complex adaptive design at multiple levels of biological organization; (2) take a geometric approach to social adaptation to determine how complex, multidimensional phenotypes evolve in the context of social conflicts; (3) develop a computational paradigm for group-level adaptation in which complexity may be quantified and tracked over evolutionary timescales; and (4) employ genomic imprinting as a tractable model of major transitions, to understand how conflicts of interest arise and how they resolve to maintain or disrupt the adaptive integrity of the organism, with applications to childhood cancers and growth, fertility and neurological disorders. This research will yield novel insights into the fundamental drivers of complex adaptation at the level of whole organisms and successful societies.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Dyble M, Gardner A, Vinicius L, Migliano AB
Inclusive fitness for in-laws.
published pages: , ISSN: 1744-9561, DOI:
Biology Letters 2020-01-28
2019 Hitchcock TJ, Gardner A
Parent-of-origin specific gene expression and dispersal.
published pages: , ISSN: 2352-1546, DOI:
Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 2020-01-28
2019 Ross L, Davies NG, Gardner A
How to make a haploid male.
published pages: , ISSN: 2056-3744, DOI:
Evolution Letters 2020-01-28
2019 McDonald GC, Gardner A, Pizzari T
Sexual selection in complex communities: integrating interspecific reproductive interference in structured populations.
published pages: , ISSN: 0014-3820, DOI:
Evolution 2020-01-28
2018 Micheletti AJC, Ruxton GD, Gardner A
Why war is a man’s game.
published pages: , ISSN: 0962-8452, DOI:
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B — Biological Sciences 2020-01-28
2019 Gardner A
The agent concept is a scientific tool.
published pages: , ISSN: 0815-0796, DOI:
Metascience 2020-01-28
2019 Hitchcock TJ, Paracchini S, Gardner A
Genomic imprinting as a window into human language evolution.
published pages: , ISSN: 1521-1878, DOI:
BioEssays 2020-01-28
2019 Faria GS, Varela SAM, Gardner A
The social evolution of sleep: sex differences, intragenomic conflicts and clinical pathologies.
published pages: , ISSN: 0962-8452, DOI:
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B — Biological Sciences 2020-01-28

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