I presented this poster, Negative Niche Construction Favors the Evolution of Cooperation, on August 17, 2015 at BEACON Congress 2015 (program).

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Abstract

By benefitting others at a cost to themselves, cooperators face an ever present threat from defectors—individuals that avail themselves of the cooperative benefit without contributing. A longstanding challenge to evolutionary biology is understanding the mechanisms that support the many instances of cooperation that nevertheless exist. Here, we build upon recent work that showed cooperation can be maintained by genetic association with beneficial mutations. We show that by modifying their local environment, a process called niche construction, populations create adaptive opportunities that allow cooperation to be maintained indefinitely.

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This work was supported in part by National Science Foundation grants 1309318, 0939454, and 0952825. Computational resources provided by an award from Google, Inc.