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International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS2006)

Animal network phenomena: insights from triadic games

Mike Mesterton-Gibbons
Department of Mathematics, Florida State University

Tom Sherratt
Department of Biology, Carleton University

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     Last modified: August 11, 2006

Games of animal conflict in networks rely heavily on
computer simulation because analysis is difficult, the degree of
difficulty increasing sharply with the size of the network. For this
reason, virtually the entire analytical literature on evolutionary
game theory has assumed either dyadic interaction or a high degree of
symmetry, or both. Yet we cannot rely exclusively on computer
simulation in the study of any complex system. So the study of
triadic interactions has an important role to play, because triads are
both the simplest groups in which asymmetric network phenomena can be
studied and the groups beyond dyads in which analysis of population
games is most likely to be tractable, especially when allowing for
intrinsic variation. Here we demonstrate how such analyses can
illuminate a variety of behavioral phenomena within networks,
including coalition formation, eavesdropping (the strategic observation
of contests between neighbors) and victory displays (which are
performed by the winners of contests but not by the losers). In
particular, we show that eavesdropping acts to lower aggression
thresholds compared to games without it, and that victory displays to
bystanders will be most intense when there is little difference in
payoff between dominating an opponent and not subordinating.

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