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Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Sep 7;273(1598):2249-56.

Evolutionary games on cycles.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan. ohtsuki@bio-math10.biology.kyushu-u


Traditional evolutionary game theory explores frequency-dependent selection in well-mixed populations without spatial or stochastic effects. But recently there has been much interest in studying the evolutionary game dynamics in spatial settings, on lattices and other graphs. Here, we present an analytic approach for the stochastic evolutionary game dynamics on the simplest possible graph, the cycle. For three different update rules, called 'birth-death' (BD), 'death-birth' (DB) and 'imitation' (IM), we derive exact conditions for natural selection to favour one strategy over another. As specific examples, we consider a coordination game and Prisoner's Dilemma. In the latter case, selection can favour cooperators over defectors for DB and IM updating. We also study the case where the replacement graph of evolutionary updating remains a cycle, but the interaction graph for playing the game is a complete graph. In this setting, all three update rules lead to identical conditions in the limit of weak selection, where we find the '1/3-law' of well-mixed populations.

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