ESR3 – The evolution of cooperation in structured populations involving multi-level selection

ESR3: The evolution of cooperation in structured populations involving multi-level selection

Recruiting beneficairy: Centre for Ecological Research/Ökológiai Kutatóközpont, Hungary

Internal supervisors: Dr. József Garay, Dr. Ádám Kun

Brief project description: We shall develop models of multi-level selection, in which within-group competition and between-group competition are at odds. Individuals within a group face a social dilemma and their individual payoffs determine their within-group success. At the same time, the groups may also compete with each other, and cooperative individuals contribute more to the competition abilities of their group than the selfish ones. We will investigate conditions that are conductive for the maximisation of the total payoff (welfare) of the group.

Updates: Nandakishor is developing mathematical models by taking inspiration from biological examples of different types of symbiosis. He considers density-dependent, infinite, and structured populations in a game-theoretic and population dynamics approach. His work started with a generalized model to study the coevolutionary stability of a host-specific and obligate symbiont (mutualist or parasite) and its host. Along the same line, he extended his study to hypothesize the origin of eukaryotes as a symbiotic (cooperative) association. The step-by-step evolution of cooperative behavior in the context of eukaryogenesis (as a symbiotic merger) is the prime objective of his work. Modeling the growth rates of the involved populations using new methods is also one of his focuses. In general, Nandakishor works on understanding the fixation of the symbiotic entities as opposed to their free-living ancestors, where selection happens on two levels (multi-level selection).