A novel solution to this problem has been proposed by scientists at the University of Bristol and is published today in Nature.
Professor John McNamara and colleagues demonstrate that when individuals in a population are choosy about their partners, cooperativeness is rewarded and tends to increase.
Professor McNamara explained: “The problem is that the process of natural selection tends to produce individuals that do the best for themselves. So why has a behaviour evolved that appears to benefit others at a cost to the individual concerned?
“In our model, an individual’s level of choosiness determines the level of cooperation demanded of its partner. If the current partner is not cooperative enough the individual stops interacting with this partner and seeks a better partner, even though finding a new partner incurs costs.”
So when is it worth leaving the current partner and seeking a more cooperative one? Two components are necessary for this to be beneficial:
•There must be better partners out there.
•There must also be time to exploit the relationship with the new partner, which will be true for long-lived animals like humans.
If these conditions are met, natural selection will lead to a certain degree of choosiness evolving. And once this happens, an individual that is not cooperative will be discarded by its partner and must pay the cost of finding another partner.
Thus when there is choosiness, cooperativeness is rewarded and tends to increase. In this way the level of cooperation and the degree of choosiness increase together over time, and cooperation can evolve from an initially uncooperative population.
This research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Professor Nigel Brown, Director of Science and Technology at BBSRC, commented: “This is one of a number of fields where modelling studies are advancing biological science more rapidly than experiment alone can achieve.”
In a computational model, the team considered a large population where, in each of a discrete series of time steps, pairs of individuals engage in a ‘game’ in which each individual does best by being uncooperative and letting its partner put in the hard work.
Each individual was characterised by two traits: a cooperativeness trait, which specifies the amount of effort that the individual devotes to generating benefits available to its co-player, and a choosiness trait, which specifies the minimum degree of cooperativeness that the individual is prepared to accept from its co-player. The traits are not adjusted in response to the co-player’s behaviour and do not change over an individual’s life.
As this model does not require complex procedures such as negotiation, it could be relevant to a wide range of species.
Cherry Lewis | alfa
Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy