Researchers develop new mathematical model
on the influence of family recognition on cooperation
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - Toulouse - Gonçalo Faria and co-author Andy Gardner published a study in Biology letters unveiling a new mathematical model guiding researchers on evolutionary consequences of kin discrimination.
Kin discrimination is when individuals are able to recognize their relatives and behave nepotistically towards them. This behavior is thought to be one of the main drivers of cooperation in the biological world. Although kin discrimination can explain who helps whom, it is not clear whether it should lead to more or less cooperation overall.
NEW MATHEMATICAL MODEL FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
Gonçalo Faria and co-author Andy Gardner (University of St Andrews) developed a mathematical model using the Jensen’s inequality theorem to calculate levels of cooperation and understand when and where kin discrimination leads to more or less cooperation.
Results showed that, depending on the mathematical details of the situation, kin discrimination can lead to a higher or lower level of cooperation – or no difference at all.
“Crucially, we are testing the typical assumption in biology that kin discrimination always leads to more nepotism and, therefore, less cooperation within the population. While intuitively nepotism should lead to less cooperation, it does not need to. If every individual in a population cooperates with their family, then the overall cooperation in the population can go up, even if this is achieved through nepotism" says Dr. Faria.
This analysis provides a new method to guide future research on evolutionary consequences of kin discrimination.
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