Evol Ecol Res 2: 761-767 (2000)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Assortative interactions and the evolution of cooperation during predator inspection in guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

Lee A. Dugatkin1 and David Sloan Wilson2

1Department of Biology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292 and 2Department of Biology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: lee.dugatkin@louisville.edu


One possible mechanism for the evolution of cooperation/altruism is assortative interactions, in which cooperators interact with each other by choice and cheaters are forced to interact with each other by default. This mechanism has been regarded as implausible in the past, but more recent models have revealed its likelihood when cooperative behaviour is a quantitative trait that can be observed directly by members of the population. Assortative interactions are likely to occur in guppies (Poecilia reticulata) because they cooperate in the context of predator inspection, their inspection behaviour is a quantitative trait, and they are known to monitor each other’s behaviour and choose to associate with fish that inspect. Despite these preconditions, our experiments failed to demonstrate assortative interactions in free-swimming guppies. We offer our negative evidence as an incentive for others to look for what remains a theoretically plausible mechanism for the evolution of cooperation/altruism.

Keywords: altruism, cooperation, predator inspection.

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