cooperation (lat. cooperatio = participation) describes a form of cooperation between two or more individuals, in which all parties benefit from the situation. Altruism is not part of the cooperation, since in altruism only one side benefits, while the other has a - albeit wanted - disadvantage.
Cooperation is found in nature among many species of animals. People certainly show the most complex of all cooperation behaviors. The transition from hominids living in small groups to population-rich civilization has only become possible through cooperation. Although the modern man appeared 200,000 years ago, it took a long time before the first civilizations originated in Mesopotamia and Egypt (about 3000 BC). Cooperation is an important prerequisite for the emergence of civilizations. A life in line with the motto 'from hand to mouth', as our ancestors did for the most part, made the emergence of a great civilization impossible. If all individuals are busy with their own food supply every day, there is no time left for art, culture, technology and progress. Cooperation and the sharing of responsibilities (especially in food procurement!) Created the basis for the development of a society.
Forms of cooperation
The effective purpose behind cooperation is the mutual enhancement of biological fitness. Through cooperation, both individuals (or more) increase the probability of their own reproduction, ie the spread of their genes. This is not always immediately obvious. Common hunting in groups or the union of many individuals for defense against predators, serves primarily not the reproduction, but the species conservation. The cooperating individuals live longer than those without cooperation, whereby the probability of reproduction increases significantly.
The intensity of the cooperation can vary greatly, from the rather accidental use, to the survival symbiosis:
Loose union: e.g. Fish swarms or large animal herds. These groups are quite open, i. new members can easily become part of the group. There is little or no genetic relationship among the animals. Often there are also swarms and herds of different species (gazelle, gnu and zebra). In this defensive alliance, the chance of falling prey to a predator is lower, also because the animals warn each other of threats.
composite: e.g. Lions, monkeys and elephants. Composites are characterized by a fixed ranking. There is a partial genetic relationship between them. An association usually only consists of similar animals.
animal State: e.g. Ants, bees and termites. There is a fixed distribution of tasks. At the head of the state is a queen who is constantly laying new eggs. Workers take care of the food supply, women soldiers to defend the nest. Genetically, all individuals are related to each other.
symbiosis: e.g. Clownfish and sea anemone or alga and mushroom (lichen). Two alien species with frequent interaction. If both species can no longer survive without the other one also speaks of an eusymbiosis.