A Synthesis of Game Theory and Quantitative Genetic Models of Social Evolution

Joel W. McGlothlin, Erol Akçay, Edmund D. Brodie, Allen J. Moore, Jeremy Van Cleve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two popular approaches for modeling social evolution, evolutionary game theory and quantitative genetics, ask complementary questions but are rarely integrated. Game theory focuses on evolutionary outcomes, with models solving for evolutionarily stable equilibria, whereas quantitative genetics provides insight into evolutionary processes, with models predicting short-term responses to selection. Here we draw parallels between evolutionary game theory and interacting phenotypes theory, which is a quantitative genetic framework for understanding social evolution. First, we show how any evolutionary game may be translated into two quantitative genetic selection gradients, nonsocial and social selection, which may be used to predict evolutionary change from a single round of the game. We show that synergistic fitness effects may alter predicted selection gradients, causing changes in magnitude and sign as the population mean evolves. Second, we show how evolutionary games involving plastic behavioral responses to partners can be modeled using indirect genetic effects, which describe how trait expression changes in response to genes in the social environment. We demonstrate that repeated social interactions in models of reciprocity generate indirect effects and conversely, that estimates of parameters from indirect genetic effect models may be used to predict the evolution of reciprocity. We argue that a pluralistic view incorporating both theoretical approaches will benefit empiricists and theorists studying social evolution. We advocate the measurement of social selection and indirect genetic effects in natural populations to test the predictions from game theory and, in turn, the use of game theory models to aid in the interpretation of quantitative genetic estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Heredity
Volume113
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
J.V.C. acknowledges National Science Foundation CAREER Award DEB-1846260 for support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The American Genetic Association. 2022. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

Keywords

  • evolutionary game theory
  • hawk-dove game
  • indirect genetic effects
  • interacting phenotypes
  • reciprocal altruism
  • social selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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