A phenotype is the outward expression, the visible manifestation of a genotype (one's genes). Hence, one may have a gene for a particular eye color. This person's eyes are blue both in her genotype and her phenotype. Phenotypes then, obviously, apply to the physical characteristic of an individual. Yet, a phenotype is not limited to physical characteristics on the individual herself
A beaver is isolated from her family at birth. She is raised without the company of other beavers later to be released as an adult into a wetland void of beavers. Instinctively she sources the flow of water through her wetland, builds a dam, and forces the creation of an artificial pond. This behavior was obviously not learned as she did not learn it by observation: it is instinct and was coded in her genes.
The beaver's dam is, thus, an example of a phenotype: the outward expression of a genotype. Differences in phenotypic beaver dams exist. Some may allow more water flow; others less, etc. One beaver phenotype may present a proclivity for poplar trees, and a later birch-tree fungus, which kills off all available birch, may hence find the poplar-tree phenotypic proclivity of a particular beaver may spare her the plight of absent birch. Another beaver that prefers birch might not fare as well during the same birch-tree kill off.
How does natural selection act on the individual worker ant? She is incapable of reproduction, yet she cares for the larval brood, protects the colony, gathers food, builds and repairs the hill. Are her behaviors adding to the beneficial pressure of natural selection?
The worker ant is the offspring of the colony's queen and one drone who died moments after copulation--possibly weeks, months, or even years ago. The behaviors of the individual ant are phenotypes of the queen. All female ants in the colony share the same DNA; however, worker DNA ignores reproductive coding, soldier DNA recognizes and acts on coding for size and larger mandibles, and the queen DNA acts on coding, ignored by the others, for size and reproduction.
The phenotypic behaviors of the worker ant are actually phenotypes of the queen. If the queen produces phenotypic behaviors among her offspring that lend toward less community stability, then the chances of reproductive differential diminishes. Hence, the workers are phenotypes of the queen. Altruism and social cohesion as phenotypes of the queen favor the survival of the colony and reproductive differential in the queen.
Understanding how this relates to memes and human morality will be developed in the next installments. Particular attention will be placed on the ceremonial observances of the Pentateuch.