Top of Page Skip to main content

Omar Tonsi Eldakar, Ph.D.

Omar Eldakar
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Biological Sciences
(954) 262-8087


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship (2009-2012). PERT fellow for the Center for Insect Science. University of Arizona, AZ
  • Ph.D. (2008) Biology. The evolution of self-limiting behavioral strategies. Supervising Professor: David Sloan Wilson, Binghamton University, NY
  • M.S. (2005) Biology. Explaining individual differences in cooperation, cheating and punishment Supervising Professor: David Sloan Wilson, Binghamton University, NY
  • B.S. (2003) Biology. Binghamton University, NY

Academic Interests

I am an evolutionary biologist exploring the dynamics of multilevel selection in the evolution of cooperation and conflict. Multilevel selection posits that all of the fundamental features of natural selection such as variation, heritability and fitness occur at multiple levels of biological organization. What evolves in populations are the net sum of these selection pressures. Although selection at these levels may act harmoniously for particular traits, they are often in conflict in regards to social evolution.

The concept of selection at multiple levels arose in response to the original problem posed by Darwin who observed that social adaptations are not always locally advantageous. Natural selection favors traits that confer a reproductive advantage over others, thus a wide range of important and common traits, including altruism, helping and cooperation seemed paradoxical. However, although selfish individuals maintain a relative fitness advantage over altruists within groups, the negative fitness consequences of selfishness on the group as a whole (including selfish individuals), may decrease the fitness of selfishness in the overall population. Groups with more altruistic individuals will contribute more offspring to the next generation than groups comprised of more selfish individuals. Thus, traits such as altruism can achieve the greatest overall fitness in the population, while still being selectively disadvantageous locally within any given group. My research investigates the balance of selection at multiple levels and mechanisms that mediate this balance in a wide range of taxa from bacteria to insects to humans.

Specific Interests

  • Multilevel selection
  • Cooperation and conflict
  • Game Theory
  • Sexual Conflict
  • Yawning

Courses Taught at NSU

  • BIOL 1100 – Concepts and Connections in Biology
  • BIOL 1510 – Introduction to Biology II
  • BIOL 3220 – Animal Behavior
  • BIOL 4600 – Evolution, Adaptation, and Health
  • BIOL 4900 – Independent Study in Biology
  • BIOL 4950 – Internship in Biology

*undergraduate student author

Wilson, C. E., Lopatkin, A. J., Craddock, T. C., Driscoll, W. W., Eldakar, O. T., Lopez, J. and Smith, R. P. (2017) Cooperation and competition shape ecological resistance during periodic spatial disturbance of engineered bacteria. Scientific Reports. 7, article 440.

Eldakar, O.T., Tartar, J., *Garcia, D., *Ramirez, V., *Dauzonne, M., *Armani, Y., and Gallup, A.C. (2017) Acute physical stress modulates the temporal expression of self-reported contagious yawning in humans. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology. In press

Dressler, M., *Clark, C., *Thachettu, C., *Zakaria, Y., Eldakar, O.T., and Smith R. P. (2016) Synthetically engineered microbes reveal interesting principles of cooperation. Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering. In press
Eldakar, O.T. and Gallup A. C. (2016) Adaptive myopia: how nearsightedness on land helps us underwater. Journal of Brief Ideas [not peer-review]
Eldakar, O.T., *Dauzonne, M., *Prilutskaya, Y., *Garcia, D., *Thadal, C, and Gallup, A.C. (2015) Temperature dependent variation in self-reported contagious yawning. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 1-7. 
Eldakar, O. T. (2015) Group selection in The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality (eds. P. Whelehan and A. Bolin). Wiley-Blackwell.
Gallup, A.C. and Eldakar, O.T. (2014) Winner and loser effects in major league baseball double headers. Human Ethology Bulletin. 29: 18-27.
Massen, J. J. M., Dusch K., Eldakar O. T. and Gallup, A.C. (2014) A thermal window for yawning in humans: yawning as a brain cooling mechanism. Physiology and Behavior, 130: 145-148.
Eldakar, O. T. and Gallup, A. C. (2013) Mate Disruption in the Water Strider, Aquaris remigis Say, 1832 (Hemiptera: Gerridae). Aquatic Insects, 35: 89-97.
Eldakar, O. T., Driscoll, W. W., and Gallup, A. C. (2013) When hawks give rise to doves: The evolution of enforcement strategies. Evolution, 67, 1549-60.
Driscoll, W. W., *Espinosa, N. J., Eldakar, O.T., and Hackett, J.D. (2013) Private and public benefits of toxin-mediated mixotrophy in the bloom-forming microalga Prymnesium parvum. Evolution, 67, 1582-90.
O’Brien, D. T., Gallup, A. C. and Eldakar, O. T. (2013) The influence of real world resource asymmetries on punishment in economic games.  Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology, 7(1), 3-11.
Gallup, A. C. and Eldakar, O. T. (2012) The thermoregulatory theory of yawning: what we know from five years of research. Frontiers in Neurobiology, 6:188.
Eldakar, O. T. and Gallup, A. C. (2011) The consequences and evolution of sexual conflict in multigroup populations. PLoS one 6(10), e26451.
Gallup, A. C. and Eldakar, O. T. (2011) Contagious yawning and climate variation. Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience 3:3
Eldakar, O. T. and Wilson D. S. (2011) Eight criticisms not to make about group selection. Evolution 65, 1523-1526.
Suni, S. S. and Eldakar, O. T. (2011) High mating frequency and variation with lineage ratio in dependent-lineage harvester ants. Insectes Sociaux 58, 357-364.
Eldakar, O. T., Wilson, D. S, Dlugos, M., and Pepper J. W. (2010) The role of multilevel selection in the evolution of sexual conflict in the water strider Aquarius remigis. Evolution 64, 3183-3189.
Eldakar, O. T., Dlugos, M., Holt, G. P., Wilson, D. S. and Pepper J. W. (2010) Population structure influences sexual conflict in wild populations of water striders. Behaviour 147, 1615-1631.
Eldakar, O. T., Dlugos, M., Pepper, J. W. and Wilson, D. S. (2009) Population structure mediates sexual conflict in water striders. Science 326, 816.
Eldakar, O. T. (2009) An evolutionary biologist learns how to be remembered: cheat someone. Nature 460, 783-783.
Eldakar, O. T., Dlugos, M., Wilcox, R. S. and Wilson, D. S. (2009) Aggressive mating as a tragedy of the commons in a water strider Aquarius remigis. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64, 25-33. [Highlighted in Nature. Evolution: Nice guys finish last. Research highlights, Nature 460, 308]
Eldakar, O. T. and Wilson, D. S. (2008) Selfishness as second-order altruism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 109, 6982-6986.
Eldakar, O. T., *Farrell, D. and Wilson, D. S. (2007) Selfish punishment: Altruism can be maintained by competition among cheaters. Journal of Theoretical Biology 29, 198-205.
Eldakar, O. T., Wilson, D. S. and O’Gorman, R (2006) Emotions and actions associated with altruistic helping and punishment. Evolutionary Psychology 4, 274-286.

Return to top of page