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Nothing better to do? Environment quality and the evolution of cooperation by partner choice

Abstract : The effects of partner choice have been documented in a large number of biological systems such as sexual markets, interspecific mutualisms, or human cooperation. There are, however, a number of situations in which one would expect this mechanism to play a role, but where no such effect has ever been demonstrated. This is the case in particular in many intraspecific interactions, such as collective hunts, in non–human animals. Here we use individual-based simulations to solve this apparent paradox. We show that the conditions for partner choice to operate are in fact restrictive. They entail that individuals can compare social opportunities and choose the best. The challenge is that social opportunities are often rare because they necessitate the co-occurrence of (i) at least one available partner, and (ii) a resource to exploit together with this partner. This has three consequences. First, partner choice cannot lead to the evolution of cooperation when resources are scarce, which explains that this mechanism could never be observed in many cases of intraspecific cooperation in animals. Second, partner choice can operate when partners constitute in themselves a resource, which is the case in sexual interactions and interspecific mutualisms. Third, partner choice can lead to the evolution of cooperation when individuals live in a rich environment, and/or when they are highly efficient at extracting resources from their environment.
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Contributor : Nicolas Bredeche Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - 6:15:31 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 14, 2022 - 9:46:03 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, November 5, 2021 - 7:21:37 PM


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Paul Ecoffet, Nicolas Bredeche, Jean-Baptiste André. Nothing better to do? Environment quality and the evolution of cooperation by partner choice. Journal of Theoretical Biology, Elsevier, 2021, 527, pp.110805. ⟨10.1016/j.jtbi.2021.110805⟩. ⟨hal-03313846⟩



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