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Offspring mortality was a determinant factor in the evolution of paternal investment in humans: an evolutionary game approach. (English) Zbl 1370.92109
Summary: Some researchers support the belief that man evolved philandering behavior because of the greater reproductive success of promiscuous males. According to this idea, deserting behavior from the man should be expected along with null paternal involvement in offspring care. Paradoxically however, the average offspring investment in the human male is far higher than that of any other male mammal, including other primates. In our work, we have addressed this conundrum by employing evolutionary game theory, using objective payoffs instead of, as are commonly used, arbitrary payoffs. Payoffs were computed as reproductive successes by a model based on trivial probabilities, implemented within the Barreto’s Population Dynamics Toolbox (2014). The evolution of the parent conflict was simulated by a game with two players (the woman and the man). First, a simple game was assayed with two strategies, ‘desert-unfaithful’ and ‘care-faithful’. Then, the game was played with a third mixed strategy, ‘care-unfaithful’. The two-strategy game results were mainly determined by the offspring survival rate \((s)\) and the non-paternity rate \((z)\), with remaining factors playing a secondary role. Starting from two empirical estimates for both rates (\(s=0.617\) and \(z=0.033\)) and decreasing the offspring mortality from near 0.4 to 0.1, the results were consistent with a win for the ‘care-faithful’ strategy. The ‘desert-unfaithful’ strategy only won at unrealistically high non-paternity rates \((z>0.2)\). When three-strategy games were played, the mixed strategy of ‘care-unfaithful’ man could win the game in some less frequent cases. Regardless of the number of game strategies, ‘care’ fathers always won. These results strongly suggest that offspring mortality was the key factor in the evolution of paternal investment within the Homo branch. The ‘care-faithful’ strategy would have been the main strategy in human evolution but ‘care-unfaithful’ men did evolve at a lesser frequency. It can therefore be concluded that human populations, under most of the likely ecological situations, would arrive at a polymorphic state where alternative strategies might be present in significant quantity.
MSC:
92D15 Problems related to evolution
91A80 Applications of game theory
91A22 Evolutionary games
Software:
GitHub; PDToolbox
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