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Evolutionary Ecology Research, 1999, 1: 459477 1999 Leticia Avils

Summary: Evolutionary Ecology Research, 1999, 1: 459­477
© 1999 Leticia Avilés
Cooperation and non-linear dynamics: An ecological
perspective on the evolution of sociality
Leticia Avilés*
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Using the theory and methods of non-linear dynamics, I explore the consequences of co-
operation on the size and dynamics of social groups. I present a model that incorporates into a
discrete growth equation a positive density-dependent factor to represent the synergistic effects
of cooperation. Analysis of this model shows that, by increasing the net reproductive output
of group-living organisms, cooperation could either stabilize or destabilize the dynamics of a
social group. At one end of the spectrum, group-living and cooperation could make persistence
possible under harsh demographic or ecological conditions. At the other end of the spectrum,
in populations already organized in social groups, cooperation could lead to more highly
integrated social groups that are subject to a boom-and-bust pattern of growth. When
groups last for multiple generations, such a pattern could take the form of periodic or chaotic
dynamics. It is suggested that dynamical instability could result in rates of group turnover large
enough for selection among the highly integrated social groups to take over as the primary
evolutionary force. Consideration of the dynamical effects of cooperation, therefore, may shed


Source: Avilés, Leticia - Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology