Coevolutionary interactions between farmers and mafia induce host acceptance of avian brood parasites Journal Article

Author(s): Chakra, Maria A; Hilbe, Christian; Traulsen, Arne
Article Title: Coevolutionary interactions between farmers and mafia induce host acceptance of avian brood parasites
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: Brood parasites exploit their host in order to increase their own fitness. Typically, this results in an arms race between parasite trickery and host defence. Thus, it is puzzling to observe hosts that accept parasitism without any resistance. The ‘mafia’ hypothesis suggests that these hosts accept parasitism to avoid retaliation. Retaliation has been shown to evolve when the hosts condition their response to mafia parasites, who use depredation as a targeted response to rejection. However, it is unclear if acceptance would also emerge when ‘farming’ parasites are present in the population. Farming parasites use depredation to synchronize the timing with the host, destroying mature clutches to force the host to re-nest. Herein, we develop an evolutionary model to analyse the interaction between depredatory parasites and their hosts. We show that coevolutionary cycles between farmers and mafia can still induce host acceptance of brood parasites. However, this equilibrium is unstable and in the long-run the dynamics of this host–parasite interaction exhibits strong oscillations: when farmers are the majority, accepters conditional to mafia (the host will reject first and only accept after retaliation by the parasite) have a higher fitness than unconditional accepters (the host always accepts parasitism). This leads to an increase in mafia parasites’ fitness and in turn induce an optimal environment for accepter hosts.
Keywords: Evolutionary game theory; host–parasite interactions; coevolution; Punishment; Retaliation
Journal Title: Royal Society Open Science
Volume: 3
Issue 5
ISSN: 2054-5703
Publisher: Royal Society, The  
Date Published: 2016-05-01
Start Page: Article number: 160036
Copyright Statement: CC BY 4.0
Sponsor: M.A.C. and A.T. gratefully acknowledge funding by the Max Planck Society. C.H. gratefully acknowledges funding by the Schrödinger scholarship of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) J3475.
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160036
Open access: yes (OA journal)
IST Austria Authors
  1. Christian Hilbe
    12 Hilbe
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