The evolvability of cooperation under local and non-local mutations

Alexander J. Stewart*, Joshua B. Plotkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


We study evolutionary dynamics in a population of individuals engaged in pairwise social interactions, encoded as iterated games. We consider evolution within the space of memory-1strategies, and we characterize all evolutionary robust outcomes, as well as their tendency to evolve under the evolutionary dynamics of the system. When mutations are restricted to be local, as opposed to non-local, then a wider range of evolutionary robust outcomes tend to emerge, but mutual cooperation is more difficult to evolve. When we further allow heritable mutations to the player’s investment level in each cooperative interaction, then co-evolution leads to changes in the payoff structure of the game itself and to specific pairings of robust games and strategies in the population. We discuss the implications of these results in the context of the genetic architectures that encode how an individual expresses its strategy or investment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-250
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2015


  • Adaptive dynamics
  • Cooperation
  • Evolution of investment
  • Evolvability
  • Iterated games
  • Memory-1 strategies
  • Payoff evolution


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