Consider a cooperation game on a spatial network of habitat patches, where players can relocate between habitats if they judge the local conditions to be unfavorable. In time, the relocation events may lead to a homogeneous state where all patches harbor the same densities of cooperators and defectors or they may lead to self-organized patterns, where some patches become safe havens that maintain a high cooperator density. Here we analyze the transition between these states mathematically. We show that safe havens form once a certain threshold in connectivity is crossed. This threshold can be analytically linked to the structure of the patch network and specifically to certain network motifs. Surprisingly, a forgiving defector-avoidance strategy may be most favorable for cooperators. Our results demonstrate that the analysis of cooperation games in ecologically-inspired metacommunity models is mathematically tractable and has the potential to link diverse topics such as macroecological patterns, behavioral evolution, and network topology.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Submitted - 2021|