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Biosystems. 2010 Feb;99(2):109-25. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2009.10.003. Epub 2009 Oct 29.

Coevolutionary games--a mini review.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of Maribor, Koroska cesta 160, Maribor, Slovenia. matjaz.perc@uni-mb.si

Abstract

Prevalence of cooperation within groups of selfish individuals is puzzling in that it contradicts with the basic premise of natural selection. Favoring players with higher fitness, the latter is key for understanding the challenges faced by cooperators when competing with defectors. Evolutionary game theory provides a competent theoretical framework for addressing the subtleties of cooperation in such situations, which are known as social dilemmas. Recent advances point towards the fact that the evolution of strategies alone may be insufficient to fully exploit the benefits offered by cooperative behavior. Indeed, while spatial structure and heterogeneity, for example, have been recognized as potent promoters of cooperation, coevolutionary rules can extend the potentials of such entities further, and even more importantly, lead to the understanding of their emergence. The introduction of coevolutionary rules to evolutionary games implies, that besides the evolution of strategies, another property may simultaneously be subject to evolution as well. Coevolutionary rules may affect the interaction network, the reproduction capability of players, their reputation, mobility or age. Here we review recent works on evolutionary games incorporating coevolutionary rules, as well as give a didactic description of potential pitfalls and misconceptions associated with the subject. In addition, we briefly outline directions for future research that we feel are promising, thereby particularly focusing on dynamical effects of coevolutionary rules on the evolution of cooperation, which are still widely open to research and thus hold promise of exciting new discoveries.

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