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Coevolution of adaptive technology, maladaptive culture and population size in a producer-scrounger game.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences
Technology (i.e. tools, methods of cultivation and domestication, systems of construction and appropriation, machines) has increased the vital rates of humans, and is one of the defining features of the transition from Malthusian ecological stagnation to a potentially perpetual rising population growth. Maladaptations, on the other hand, encompass behaviours, customs and practices that decrease the vital rates of individuals. Technology and maladaptations are part of the total stock of culture carried by the individuals in a population. Here, we develop a quantitative model for the coevolution of cumulative adaptive technology and maladaptive culture in a 'producer-scrounger' game, which can also usefully be interpreted as an 'individual-social' learner interaction. Producers (individual learners) are assumed to invent new adaptations and maladaptations by trial-and-error learning, insight or deduction, and they pay the cost of innovation. Scroungers (social learners) are assumed to copy or imitate (cultural transmission) both the adaptations and maladaptations generated by producers. We show that the coevolutionary dynamics of producers and scroungers in the presence of cultural transmission can have a variety of effects on population carrying capacity. From stable polymorphism, where scroungers bring an advantage to the population (increase in carrying capacity), to periodic cycling, where scroungers decrease carrying capacity, we find that selection-driven cultural innovation and transmission may send a population on the path of indefinite growth or to extinction.
Adaptation, Physiological, Biological Evolution, Cultural Characteristics, Game Theory, Humans, Learning, Models, Biological, Models, Economic, Population Density, Technology
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