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      Evolutionary dynamics in structured populations


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          Evolutionary dynamics shape the living world around us. At the centre of every evolutionary process is a population of reproducing individuals. The structure of that population affects evolutionary dynamics. The individuals can be molecules, cells, viruses, multicellular organisms or humans. Whenever the fitness of individuals depends on the relative abundance of phenotypes in the population, we are in the realm of evolutionary game theory. Evolutionary game theory is a general approach that can describe the competition of species in an ecosystem, the interaction between hosts and parasites, between viruses and cells, and also the spread of ideas and behaviours in the human population. In this perspective, we review the recent advances in evolutionary game dynamics with a particular emphasis on stochastic approaches in finite sized and structured populations. We give simple, fundamental laws that determine how natural selection chooses between competing strategies. We study the well-mixed population, evolutionary graph theory, games in phenotype space and evolutionary set theory. We apply these results to the evolution of cooperation. The mechanism that leads to the evolution of cooperation in these settings could be called ‘spatial selection’: cooperators prevail against defectors by clustering in physical or other spaces.

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          A simple rule for the evolution of cooperation on graphs and social networks.

          A fundamental aspect of all biological systems is cooperation. Cooperative interactions are required for many levels of biological organization ranging from single cells to groups of animals. Human society is based to a large extent on mechanisms that promote cooperation. It is well known that in unstructured populations, natural selection favours defectors over cooperators. There is much current interest, however, in studying evolutionary games in structured populations and on graphs. These efforts recognize the fact that who-meets-whom is not random, but determined by spatial relationships or social networks. Here we describe a surprisingly simple rule that is a good approximation for all graphs that we have analysed, including cycles, spatial lattices, random regular graphs, random graphs and scale-free networks: natural selection favours cooperation, if the benefit of the altruistic act, b, divided by the cost, c, exceeds the average number of neighbours, k, which means b/c > k. In this case, cooperation can evolve as a consequence of 'social viscosity' even in the absence of reputation effects or strategic complexity.
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            The evolution of cooperation.

            Cooperation in organisms, whether bacteria or primates, has been a difficulty for evolutionary theory since Darwin. On the assumption that interactions between pairs of individuals occur on a probabilistic basis, a model is developed based on the concept of an evolutionarily stable strategy in the context of the Prisoner's Dilemma game. Deductions from the model, and the results of a computer tournament show how cooperation based on reciprocity can get started in an asocial world, can thrive while interacting with a wide range of other strategies, and can resist invasion once fully established. Potential applications include specific aspects of territoriality, mating, and disease.
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              Social diversity promotes the emergence of cooperation in public goods games.

              Humans often cooperate in public goods games and situations ranging from family issues to global warming. However, evolutionary game theory predicts that the temptation to forgo the public good mostly wins over collective cooperative action, and this is often also seen in economic experiments. Here we show how social diversity provides an escape from this apparent paradox. Up to now, individuals have been treated as equivalent in all respects, in sharp contrast with real-life situations, where diversity is ubiquitous. We introduce social diversity by means of heterogeneous graphs and show that cooperation is promoted by the diversity associated with the number and size of the public goods game in which each individual participates and with the individual contribution to each such game. When social ties follow a scale-free distribution, cooperation is enhanced whenever all individuals are expected to contribute a fixed amount irrespective of the plethora of public goods games in which they engage. Our results may help to explain the emergence of cooperation in the absence of mechanisms based on individual reputation and punishment. Combining social diversity with reputation and punishment will provide instrumental clues on the self-organization of social communities and their economical implications.

                Author and article information

                Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
                Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                The Royal Society
                12 January 2010
                12 January 2010
                : 365
                : 1537 , Theme Issue 'Personal perspectives in the life sciences for the Royal Society's 350th anniversary' compiled and edited by Georgina Mace
                : 19-30
                Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Department of Mathematics, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Author for correspondence ( martin_nowak@ 123456harvard.edu ).
                © 2010 The Royal Society

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Philosophy of science
                spatial selection,games on sets,spatial games,evolution of cooperation,evolutionary game theory,evolutionary graph theory


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