How Populations Cohere: Five Rules for Cooperation

Nowak, M.A. & Sigmund, K. (2007). How Populations Cohere: Five Rules for Cooperation. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-07-052

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Subsequent chapters in this volume deal with populations as dynamic entities in time and space. Populations are, of course, made up of individuals, and the parameters which characterize aggregate behavior-population growth rate and so on-ultimately derive from the behavioral ecology and life-history strategies of these constituent individuals. In evolutionary terms, the properties of populations can only be understood in terms of individuals, which comes down to studying how life-history choices (and consequent gene-frequency distributions) are shaped by environmental forces.

Many important aspects of group behavior-from alarm calls of birds and mammals to the complex institutions that have enabled human societies to flourish- flourishpose problems of how cooperative behavior can evolve and be maintained. The puzzle was emphasized by Darwin, and remains the subject of active research today.

In this book, we leave the large subject of individual organisms' behavioral ecology and life-history choices to texts in that field (e.g. Krebs and Davies, 1997). Instead, we lead with a survey of work, much of it very recent, on five different kinds of mechanism whereby cooperative behavior may be maintained in a population, despite the inherent difficulty that cheats may prosper by enjoying the benefits of cooperation without paying the associated costs.

Cooperation means that a donor pays a cost, c, for a recipient to get a benefit, b. In evolutionary biology, cost and benefit are measured in terms of fitness. While mutation and selection represent the main forces of evolutionary dynamics, cooperation is a fundamental principle that is required for every level of biological organization. Individual cells rely on cooperation among their components. Multicellular organisms exist because of cooperation among their cells. Social insects are masters of cooperation. Most aspects of human society are based on mechanisms that promote cooperation. Whenever evolution constructs something entirely new (such as multicellularity or human language), cooperation is needed. Evolutionary construction is based on cooperation.

The five rules for cooperation which we examine in this chapter are: kin selection, direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, graph selection, and group selection. Each of these can promote cooperation if specific conditions are fulfilled.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:40
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:20

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