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

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 more » 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.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Heredity
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 109-119
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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