Resource heterogeneity and the evolution of public-goods cooperation
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Heterogeneity in resources is a ubiquitous feature of natural landscapes affecting many aspects of biology. However, the effect of environmental heterogeneity on the evolution of cooperation has been less well studied. Here, using a mixture of theory and experiments measuring siderophore production by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a model for public goods based cooperation, we explore the effect of heterogeneity in resource availability. We show that cooperation in metapopulations that were spatially heterogeneous in terms of resources can be maintained at a higher level than in homogeneous metapopulations of the same average resource value. The results can be explained by a positive covariance between fitness of cooperators, population size, and local resource availability, which allowed cooperators to have a disproportionate advantage within the heterogeneous metapopulations. These results suggest that natural environmental variation may help to maintain cooperation.
Stilwell , P , O'Brien , S , Hesse , E , Lowe , C , Gardner , A & Buckling , A 2020 , ' Resource heterogeneity and the evolution of public-goods cooperation ' , Evolution Letters , vol. Early View . https://doi.org/10.1002/evl3.158
Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Evolution Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) and European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB). This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.