Migration can promote or inhibit cooperation between individuals

August 08, 2019

A new mathematical analysis suggests that migration can generate patterns in the spatial distribution of individuals that promote cooperation and allow populations to thrive, in spite of the threat of exploitation. Felix Funk and Christoph Hauert of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, present these findings in PLOS Computational Biology.

Cooperation between individuals is necessary for production and maintenance of shared resources, such as potable water in human communities or access to nutrients among microbes. However, if too many individuals follow selfish interests, everyone will suffer. Migration of individuals can enhance this social dilemma because defectors can latch onto cooperators or avoid the consequences of their cheating.

The authors of the new study derived mathematical equations that describe how movements that allow individuals to seek cooperation or avoid defection influence this social conflict. They found that different modes of migration can promote or inhibit heterogeneity in the spatial distribution of individuals. When heterogeneous patterns develop, cooperation is promoted and populations thrive.

For instance, when cooperators move toward other cooperators, they can form cooperative communities in which public goods are abundant. However, when defectors chase after cooperators, they can plunder these communities, straining them or causing them to completely fall apart.

The analysis suggests that attempts to avoid defectors are futile and only increase the risk of extinction because cooperators tend to spread themselves thin. Conversely, defectors can generate heterogeneous patterns by avoiding other defectors. To avoid their own kind, defectors move into peripheral areas, allowing cooperative communities to develop.

"Our model was inspired, in particular, by naturally occurring modes of directed migration, such as chemotaxis, which allows microbes to locate attractive regions while steering clear of detrimental ones," Funk says. "Our findings could inform future experimental designs to study the role of migration in the development of antibiotic resistance."
Peer-reviewed / Modeling / N/A

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Computational Biology: https://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006948

Citation: Funk F, Hauert C (2019) Directed migration shapes cooperation in spatial ecological public goods games. PLoS Comput Biol 15(8): e1006948. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006948

Funding: C.H. received the "Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada" grant RGPIN-2015-05795; http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to public, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Related Science Articles from Brightsurf:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.

Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.

Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.

World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.

PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.

Read More: Science News and Science Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.