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Why is cyclic dominance so rare?

MPS-Authors
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Park,  Hye Jin
Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Pichugin,  Yuriy
Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Traulsen,  Arne
Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Park, H. J., Pichugin, Y., & Traulsen, A. (2020). Why is cyclic dominance so rare? eLife, 9: e57857. doi:10.7554/eLife.57857.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-FA9F-E
Abstract
Natural populations can contain multiple types of coexisting individuals. How does natural selection maintain such diversity within and across populations? A popular theoretical basis for the maintenance of diversity is cyclic dominance, illustrated by the rock-paper-scissor game. However, it appears difficult to find cyclic dominance in nature. Why is this the case? Focusing on continuously produced novel mutations, we theoretically addressed the rareness of cyclic dominance. We developed a model of an evolving population and studied the formation of cyclic dominance. Our results showed that the chance for cyclic dominance to emerge is lower when the newly introduced type is similar to existing types compared to the introduction of an unrelated type. This suggests that cyclic dominance is more likely to evolve through the assembly of unrelated types whereas it rarely evolves within a community of similar types.