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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 1998 > Article Detail

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Animal Contests as Evolutionary Games

Paradoxical behavior can be understood in the context of evolutionary stable strategies. The trick is to discover which game the animal is playing

Mike Mesterton-Gibbons, Eldridge Adams

Figure 3. Mantis shrimpsClick to Enlarge Image

Whether it's in a dark alley or an open field, a meeting between two animals of the same species is an event that natural selection cannot pass by. The animals may ignore each other or they may fight, but modern evolutionary theory holds that there is a strategy behind their actions. The challenge for evolutionary biologists is to discover what that strategy might be. Our authors apply the logic and mathematics of game theory to account for the (often peculiar) responses of two animals when they meet face to face.


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