Complex evolutionary dynamics due to punishment and free space in ecological multigames


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The concurrence of ecological and evolutionary processes often arises as an integral part of various biological and social systems.

We here study eco-evolutionary dynamics by adopting two paradigmatic metaphors of social dilemmas with contrasting outcomes. We use the Prisoner’s Dilemma and Snowdrift games as the backbone of the proposed mathematical model. Since cooperation is a costly proposition in the face of the Darwinian theory of evolution, we go beyond the traditional framework by introducing punishment as an additional strategy. Punishers bare an additional cost from their own resources to try and discourage or prohibit free-riding from selfish defectors. Our model also incorporates the ecological signature of free space, which has an altruistic-like impact because it allows others to replicate and potentially thrive.

We show that the consideration of these factors has broad implications for better understanding the emergent complex evolutionary dynamics. In particular, we report the simultaneous presence of different subpopulations through the spontaneous emergence of cyclic dominance, and we determine various stationary points using traditional game-theoretic concepts and stability analysis.

S.N. Chowdhury, S. Kundu, M. Perc, D. Ghosh, Complex evolutionary dynamics due to punishment and free space in ecological multigames, Proceedings Royal Society 477 (2252) (2021) 20210397