Indexed on: 16 Aug '05Published on: 16 Aug '05Published in: Journal of Theoretical Biology
An evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) is a strategy that if almost all members of the population adopt, then this population cannot be invaded by any mutant strategy. An ESS is not necessarily a possible end point of the evolutionary process. Moreover, there are cases where the population evolves towards a strategy that is not an ESS. This paper studies the properties of a unique mixed ESS candidate in a continuous time animal conflict. A member of a group sized three finds itself at risk and needs the assistance of another group member to be saved. In this conflict, a player's strategy is to choose the probability distribution of the interval between the beginning of the game and the moment it assists the player which is at risk. We first assume that a player is only allowed to choose an exponential distribution, and show that in this case the ESS candidate is an attracting ESS; the population will always evolve towards this strategy, and once it is adopted by most members of the population it cannot be invaded by mutant strategies. Then, we extend the strategy sets and allow a player to choose any continuous distribution. We show that although this ESS candidate may no longer be an ESS, under fairly general conditions the population will tend towards it. This is done by characterizing types of strategies that if established in the population, can be invaded by this ESS candidate, and by presenting possible paths of transition from other types of common strategies to this ESS candidate.