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Demographic noise and cost of greenbeard can facilitate greenbeard cooperation

Joshi, Jaideep and Guttal, Vishwesha (2018) Demographic noise and cost of greenbeard can facilitate greenbeard cooperation. In: EVOLUTION, 72 (12). pp. 2595-2607.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.13615


Cooperation among organisms, where cooperators suffer a personal cost to benefit others, is ubiquitous in nature. Greenbeard is a key mechanism for the evolution of cooperation, where a single gene or a set of linked genes codes for both cooperation and a phenotypic tag (metaphorically called ``green beard''). Greenbeard cooperation is typically thought to decline over time since defectors can also evolve the tag. However, models of tag-based cooperation typically ignore two key realistic features: populations are finite, and that phenotypic tags can be costly. We develop an analytical model for coevolutionary dynamics of two evolvable traits in finite populations with mutations: costly cooperation and a costly tag. We show that an interplay of demographic noise and cost of the tag can induce coevolutionary cycling, where the evolving population does not reach a steady state but spontaneously switches between cooperative tag-carrying and noncooperative tagless states. Such dynamics allows the tag to repeatedly reappear even after it is invaded by defectors. Thus, we highlight the surprising possibility that the cost of the tag, together with demographic noise, can facilitate the evolution of greenbeard cooperation. We discuss implications of these findings in the context of the evolution of quorum sensing and multicellularity.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: EVOLUTION
Publisher: WILEY
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to WILEY
Keywords: Coevolution; demographic noise; evolutionary dynamics; greenbeard; sociality
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2019 10:50
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2019 10:50
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/61367

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