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- PublicationAccès libreIntegrating cooperative breeding into theoretical concepts of cooperationIn cooperative breeding systems, some individuals help to raise offspring that are not their own. While early explanations for such altruistic behaviour were predominantly based on kin selection, recent evidence suggests that direct benefits may be important in the maintenance of cooperation. To date, however, discussions of cooperative breeding have made little reference to more general theories of cooperation between unrelated individuals (while these theories rarely address cooperative breeding). Here, we attempt to integrate the two fields. We identify four key questions that can be used to categorise different mechanisms for the maintenance of cooperative behaviour: (1) whether or not individuals invest in others; (2) whether or not this initial investment elicits a return investment by the beneficiary; (3) whether the interaction is direct, i.e. between two partners, or indirect (involving third parties) and (4) whether only actions that increase the fitness of the partner or also fitness reducing actions (punishment) are involved in the interaction. Asking these questions with regards to concepts in the literature on cooperative breeding, we found that (a) it is often straightforward to relate these concepts to general mechanisms of cooperation, but that (b) a single term (such as ‘pay-to-stay’, ‘group augmentation’ or ‘prestige’) may sometimes subsume two or more distinct mechanisms, and that (c) at least some mechanisms that are thought to be important in cooperative breeding systems have remained largely unexplored in the theoretical literature on the evolution of cooperation. Future theoretical models should incorporate asymmetries in power and pay off structure caused for instance by dominance hierarchies or partner choice, and the use of N-player games. The key challenges for both theoreticians and empiricists will be to integrate the hitherto disparate fields and to disentangle the parallel effects of kin and non-kin based mechanisms of cooperation.
- PublicationAccès libreIndirect reciprocity in asymmetric interactions: when apparent altruism facilitates profitable exploitation(2007)
;Johnstone, Rufus A.Intraspecific cooperation and interspecific mutualism often feature an asymmetry in the scope for exploitation. We investigate the evolution of indirect reciprocity in an asymmetric game, loosely modelled on interactions between cleaner fishes and clients, in which ‘actors’ can choose to help or to exploit a ‘recipient’ that approaches them, while recipients can only choose whether or not to approach an actor (based on the observation of its behaviour towards others). We show that when actors vary in state over time, in a manner that influences the potential gains from exploitation, an equilibrium is possible at which recipients avoid actors whom they have observed exploiting others in the past, and actors help when the potential gains from exploitation are low but choose to exploit when the potential gains are high. In this context, helping is favoured not because it elicits reciprocal altruism (‘help so that you may be helped’), but because it facilitates profitable exploitation (‘help so that you may gain the opportunity to harm’). The cost of helping one recipient is thereby recouped through exploitation of another. Indirect reciprocity is thus possible even in asymmetric interactions in which one party cannot directly ‘punish’ exploitation or ‘reward’ helping by the other.
- PublicationAccès libreMutualism, market effects and partner control(2008)
;Johnstone, Rufus A.Intraspecific cooperation and interspecific mutualism often feature a marked asymmetry in the scope for exploitation. Cooperation may nevertheless persist despite one-sided opportunities for cheating, provided that the partner vulnerable to exploitation has sufficient control over the duration of interaction. The effectiveness of the threat of terminating an encounter, however, depends upon the ease with which both the potential victim and the potential exploiter can find replacement partners. Here, we extend a simple, game-theoretical model of this form of partner control to incorporate variation in the relative abundance of potential victims and exploiters, which leads to variation in the time required for individuals of each type to find a new partner. We show that such market effects have a dramatic influence on the stable level of exploitation (and consequent duration of interaction). As the relative abundance of victims decreases, they become less tolerant to exploitation, terminating encounters earlier (for a given level of exploitation), whereas exploiters behave in a more cooperative manner. As a result, the stable duration of interaction actually increases, despite the decreasing tolerance of the victims. Below a critical level of relative victim abundance, the model suggests that the cost of finding a replacement partner becomes so great that it does not pay to exploit at all.
- PublicationAccès libreEvolution of spite through indirect reciprocity(2003-11-07)
;Johnstone, Rufus A.How can cooperation persist in the face of a temptation to 'cheat'? Several recent papers have suggested that the answer may lie in indirect reciprocity. Altruistic individuals may benefit by eliciting altruism from observers, rather than (as in direct reciprocity) from the recipient of the aid they provide. Here, we point out that indirect reciprocity need not always favour cooperation; by contrast, it may support spiteful behaviour, which is costly for the both actor and recipient. Existing theory suggests spite is unlikely to persist, but we demonstrate that it may do so when spiteful individuals are less likely to incur aggression from observers (a negative form of indirect reciprocity).
- PublicationAccès libreOn the further integration of cooperative breeding and cooperation theoryWe present a synopsis about the commentaries to the target article “Integrating cooperative breeding into theoretical concepts of cooperation”, in which we attempted to integrate general mechanisms to explain cooperative behaviour among unrelated individuals with classic concepts to explain helping behaviour in cooperative breeders that do not invoke kin-based benefits. Here we (1) summarize the positions of the commentators concerning the main issues we raised in the target article and discuss important criticisms and extensions. (2) We relate our target article to some recent reviews on the evolution of cooperation and, (3) clarify how we use terminology with regard to cooperation and cooperative behaviour. (4) We discuss several aspects that were raised with respect to cooperative interactions including by-product mutualism, generalised reciprocity and multi-level selection and, (5) examine the alternatives to our classification scheme as proposed by some commentaries. (6) Finally, we highlight several aspects that might hinder the application of game theoretical mechanisms of cooperation in cooperatively breeding systems. Although there is broad agreement that cooperative breeding theory should be integrated within the more general concepts of cooperation, there is some debate about how this may be achieved. We conclude that the contributions in this special issue provide a fruitful first step and ample suggestions for future directions with regard to a more unified framework of cooperation in cooperative breeders.