Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Evolving Slower Gets You The Bigger Piece Of The Pie

Date:
January 21, 2003
Source:
Max Planck Society
Summary:
A well known effect in the arms race that ensues between host and parasite, the red queen effect, states that the species that is able to evolve countermeasures faster than its partner will gain the upper hand. New research claims that this is not so when considering mutualistic interactions between species. When deciding who will gain most from the interaction, it pays to move slowly. The quickly evolving species then adapts to the slow evolver's needs.

A well known effect in the arms race that ensues between host and parasite, the red queen effect, states that the species that is able to evolve countermeasures faster than its partner will gain the upper hand. New research claims that this is not so when considering mutualistic interactions between species. When deciding who will gain most from the interaction, it pays to move slowly. The quickly evolving species then adapts to the slow evolver's needs.

Related Articles


Mutualistic interactions, in which species provide services to one another, are abundant in nature. Examples are everywhere: from the mitochondria, once free-living bacteria that provide energy from burning sugars with oxygen to every cell in our body, to fungi that enable plants to take up nitrogen from the soil, to ants interacting with caterpillars providing them with protection for food. When such an interaction occurs, who will benefit most? Will the ant benefit most by providing very little protection for a lot of food, or will the caterpillar benefit most by providing very little food for a lot of protection?

Michael Lachmann from the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig and Carl Bergstrom from the University of Washington examined this question by using mathematical analysis. One can abstract the behavior of each species as being "generous" and giving much of the benefit to the other species, or being "selfish" and asking for most of the benefit for itself. In a mutualistic interaction, the two species benefit most from coordinating - when one is "generous" and the other "selfish". Benefits to each are less than optimal in other cases - when both are selfish, or both generous.

When the population of one species is all generous, and of the other all selfish, no evolutionary changes can occur, since no species can benefit from changing its behavior. When pairings of selfish-selfish or generous-generous occur in some cases, then evolutionary change might happen. If there are many pairings of the type generous-generous, the faster evolving species will quickly evolve to be selfish, and thus the population will evolve to benefit the fast evolver. If, on the other hand, there are mostly pairings of the type selfish-selfish, the faster evolving species will quickly evolve to become generous (since the generous-selfish is better than selfish-selfish) and thus the population will evolve to benefit the slow evolver.

This is the first surprising result. In interactions that require coordination of strategies, it is not necessarily an advantage to evolve fast. In many cases, the slow evolver will gain the upper hand. However, an additional twist provides an advantage for the slow evolver: each species grows best when it is selfish and the other generous, and thus one might expect most individuals in a species to come from areas which are predominantly selfish. This would mean that there is a bias towards selfish-selfish pairing, and those favor the slow evolver. Thus, in some evolutionary scenarios it takes all the evolving one can do just to stay in the same place, as the Lewis Carroll's red queen would say, and in other scenarios it pays to take one step at a time as the red king would do, and wait patiently for the other player to make the big move.

"The model is also important for evolutionary economics. It is linked to a result known in economics: when bargaining it is sometimes better to have "one's hands tied". The model applies to cases in which individuals/companies interact, and have several possible stable outcomes - agreements, or simply stable interactions", says Michael Lachmann.

The study of evolution and learning in biological systems is part of the key research area of "Dynamics of Complex Systems" at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences. Other areas of research in the institute include: the dynamics of neural networks, information processing, learning in cognitive systems, questions of synchronization and time delays in complex networks, analysis of genetic networks, mathematical models of chemotaxis, and the study of tumor growth.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max Planck Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Max Planck Society. "Evolving Slower Gets You The Bigger Piece Of The Pie." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/01/030121081507.htm>.
Max Planck Society. (2003, January 21). Evolving Slower Gets You The Bigger Piece Of The Pie. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/01/030121081507.htm
Max Planck Society. "Evolving Slower Gets You The Bigger Piece Of The Pie." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/01/030121081507.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gerbils, Not Rats, Might Be To Blame For The Black Death

Gerbils, Not Rats, Might Be To Blame For The Black Death

Newsy (Feb. 24, 2015) The "black death" that killed tens of millions of people has been blamed on rats for years, but now researchers say they may have gotten a bad rap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Timbuktu Manuscripts Face an Uncertain Future

Timbuktu Manuscripts Face an Uncertain Future

AFP (Feb. 23, 2015) Two years ago a large number of manuscripts were taken from Timbuktu for safe keeping. Now the question is whether to return them. Duration: 02:50 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Did A Mummy End Up In A 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue?

How Did A Mummy End Up In A 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue?

Newsy (Feb. 23, 2015) A CT scan has revealed a mummified Chinese monk inside a Buddha statue. The remains date back about 1,000 years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare First Folio Arrives at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Rare First Folio Arrives at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Feb. 23, 2015) A rare First Folio discovered in a French library arrives at the Shakespeare&apos;s Globe Theatre in London, where the Bard&apos;s plays were first performed. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins