Introduction

Warder Clyde Allee (Figure 1), an ecologist at the University of Chicago from 1921 to 1950, advanced the idea that social interactions have a positive influence on population dynamics. A Quaker by birth, Allee held a strong belief in the benefits of communities on individuals, and as a scientist found evidence for these benefits in animals. Individual benefits arising from interactions with conspecifics and their population consequences are now known as Allee effects.

Allee's central thesis in such books as The Social Life of Animals offered an alternative to the paradigm of pervasive competition: populations are inherently social entities, and individual benefits of social interactions exist at low-to-medium densities. Mostly ignored for the last six decades due to the backlash resulting from criticism of group selection, Allee's ideas have regained prominence as researchers are confronted with populations at low densities. Now, a number of inherent, individual benefits of sociality have been recognized. Moreover, better knowledge concerning how Allee

Figure 1 Warder Clyde Allee. Reprinted from University of Chicago Press.

effects influence populations is informing conservation biologists interested in recovering small populations and pest managers interested in controlling outbreaks.

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