The “Life History Traits” and the “r/K Selection” evolutionary theories posit that it is natural for populations and sub-populations to “adapt their reproductive and behavioral strategies to their environmental conditions”.
For example, populations that are subject to heavy predation and/or high mortality but have access to sufficient resources will favour those who reproduce at the earliest possible moment with any mate available. Those who wait to reproduce will probably be culled before reproduction. Over time such populations tend to evolve to avoid risk and competition since the abundance of resources does not warrant it. Reproduction will be very quick (high fecundity) and with as many mates as possible. Little effort tend to be invested in offspring since it would be of little disadvantage to the population so it follows that offspring would be less fit when it comes to competition since it is not favoured. Such populations are r-selected populations.
Populations that are not subject to heavy predation or high mortality tend to overpopulate until there is vigorous competition for limited resources. These conditions dictate that individuals need to compete for limited resources. This in turn results in the adoption of strategies that embrace competition and also encourage individuals to produce offspring that are capable of competition. This also results in patient and careful mate selection and extended devotion to rearing competitive offspring. These populations evolve to favour the more competitive individuals and are K-selected populations.
The ratio of r-selected and K-selected individuals (r-selected and K-selected sun-populations) within a population may also vary.
We can look at humans as an example. When we moved out of the plains of Africa and settled for the first time, our species may have encountered overpopulation and resource scarcity. Over time in such conditions a K-selected population may have been favoured even though r-selected individuals exist as a sub-population. As some individuals moved out to new territories away from the competition, r-type populations may emerge as the dominant type as resources become abundant. After a while after these populations would settle down, K-type populations would again become dominant and purge r-type, uncompetitive, more fecund individuals from the population.
In our current situation there are not many new places to escape from if you are in a K-type society where competition is high with lots of K-type individuals. However, in societies where K-type individuals are most prominent, it also follows that such highly productive and competent individuals would produce more than enough resources. Conditions of plentiful resources would then in turn result in r-selection, favouring less productive and less selfless r-type individuals. And so, human populations wax and wane between r-selected and K-selected populations.
Interestingly, there are many parallels between Conservatism and Liberalism, and r-selected and K-selected individuals.
Conservatives tend to favour:
1) Gun ownership
2) Favor war in response to threat
3) Desire lower taxes
4) Seek a more sexually restricted society where abstinence prevails until one engages in monogamous marriage.
In issues of governmental authority conservatives tend place emphasis on:
1) Freedom of the individual over the guaranteed well-being of every individual citizen.
2) The need for society to abide by certain behavioral rules.
Liberals tend to favour:
1) Stricter restrictions upon bearing arms
2) Favour appeasement and negotiations in matters of conflict
3) Favour higher taxes upon the wealthy and more generous social programs
4) Favor a sexually liberated society
In issues of governmental authority Liberals tend place emphasis on:
1) Need for government to provide for the safety and security of each citizen over the freedom of the individual.
2) More free and less restrictive society.
No single psychological factor can really explain these apparent differences. For example, a psychological desire for freedom can’t explain why Conservatives would want a more controlled, restricted society whereby behavior (sexual or otherwise) is restricted towards Conservative morals and values. In Liberals, a psychological desire for freedom can’t explain why there should be restrictions on income through higher taxes on the wealthy or restrictions on firearms ownership. Religious affiliation also fails to explain why many conservatives are non-religious or why many liberals are religious. So there is not a single successful account for these different ideologies.
And this is where the “Life History Traits” and the “r/K Selection” evolutionary theories come in. See if you can figure out which population (r- or K-selected) suits you best and which ideology you prefer and draw parallels between the two.
Check out this article (reference for this OP) and this book for examples in nature of r-selected and K-selected individuals in populations (e.g. in cuttlefish), brain structure associated with r-selected and K-selected individuals (amygdala and fear), genetic predispositions of r-selected and K-selected individuals (dopamine expression), diseases associated with r-selected and K-selected individuals (Toxoplasmosis, depression) etc.
Thought it was interesting.