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Cooperation is essential for all domains of life. Ironically, it is intrinsically vulnerable to exploitation by cheats. Hence, there is an explanatory necessity that triggers a lot of evolutionary biologists to search for mechanisms that could support cooperation. In general, cooperation can emerge and be maintained when cooperators are sufficiently interacting with themself to provide a kind of assortment and reciprocity. One of the most crucial and common mechanisms to achieve that task are kin selection, spatial structure, and enforcement (punishment). Here I used agent-based simulation models to investigate these pivotal mechanisms against conditional defector strategies and concluded it could easily violate all of them and take over the population. This surprising outcome may cue us to rethink the evolution of cooperation as it illustrates that maintaining cooperation may be more difficult than previously thought. Moreover, besides the theoretical findings, there are empirical applications such as invading the cooperator population of pathogens by genetically engineered conditional defectors, which could be a potential therapy for many incurable diseases.
In our model, individual agents are distributed over a two-dimensional square lattice. The agents play the prisoner’s dilemma game with their neighbors, imitate the highest strategy, and then migrate to empty sites based on their tag preference.
This model is designed to address the following research question: How does the amount and topology of intergroup cultural transmission modulate the effect of local group extinction on selectively neutral cultural diversity in a geographically structured population? The experimental design varies group extinction rate, the amount of intergroup cultural transmission, and the topology of intergroup cultural transmission while measuring the effects of local group extinction on long-term cultural change and regional cultural differentiation in a constant-size, spatially structured population. The results show that for most of the intergroup social network topologies tested here, increasing the amount of intergroup cultural transmission (similar to increasing gene flow in a genetic model) erases the negative effect of local group extinction on selectively neutral cultural diversity. The stochastic (i.e., preference attachment) network seems to stand out as an exception.
Agents co-operate or defect towards other agents in a prisoner’s dilemma, with strategy choice depending on whether agents share tags or are kin in different social structures.
This is a replication of the altruistic trait selection model described in Pepper & Smuts (2000, 2002).