Biological Markets
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Biological Markets
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Hagen & Garfield (2019). Leadership and prestige, mothering, sexual selection, and encephalization: The computational services model. OSF Preprints. doi:10.31219/osf.io/9bcdk

Hagen & Garfield (2019). Leadership and prestige, mothering, sexual selection, and encephalization: The computational services model. OSF Preprints. doi:10.31219/osf.io/9bcdk | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
1st par: Humans, like many other social species, exhibit social hierarchies in which top-ranked individuals typically have preferential access to resources and mates. In humans and other animals, these hierarchies are often based on physical formidability and/or the formidability of within-group coalitions. A compelling theoretical explanation for the formation of such dominance hierarchies is that they reduce the cost of ghting over resources (Maynard Smith & Parker, 1976; Drews, 1993). Human social hierarchies, however, are also based on asymmetries in knowledge and skill. Knowledgeable and skilled individuals acquire prestige, are deferred to by others, have increased mating success, and often ascend to leadership positions. Although many theories have been put forward for the evolution of knowledge- and skill-based social hierarchies, we will argue here that each has empirical and/or theoretical de ciencies.
Ronald Noë's insight:
Sexual selection theory and BMT are combined to explain selection for the big human brain by prefrence for partners (in the sexual and social sense) with big brains, notably in the role of 'leaders' for men and mothers for women.

A rather long read, but interesting. For those less patient, I recommend the explanation by Ed Hagen of the idea behind this paper here:  https://grasshoppermouse.github.io/2019/03/21/measles-mothers-leadership-and-big-brains/
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Smith & Apicella (2019). Partner choice in human evolution: The role of character, hunting ability, and reciprocity in Hadza campmate selection. ResearchGate preprint

Smith & Apicella (2019). Partner choice in human evolution: The role of character, hunting ability, and reciprocity in Hadza campmate selection. ResearchGate preprint | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: The ability to choose the partners we interact with is thought to have been an important driver in the evolution of human social behavior, and in particular, for our propensity to cooperate. But evidence for this claim comes largely from Western populations. Here, we investigate qualities associated with being a preferred partner (i.e. campmate) in Hadza hunter-gatherers of northern Tanzania. Ninety-two Hadza participants from 12 camps ranked their current campmates on character traits (i.e. hard work, generosity, and honesty), hunting ability in men, and their preference for them as future campmates. We found positive but weak associations between rankings on character traits and being a preferred campmate. However, there was suggestive evidence that being perceived as a better hunter was a more important criterion than any character traits for being a preferred campmate in men. And we found little evidence to suggest that partner preferences were reciprocated among campmates. Finally, we found little evidence to suggest that being a preferred campmate is associated with greater reproductive success, which suggests there is little benefit to being a valued partner. Together, these findings suggest that social selection for character traits was not a powerful driving force in the evolution of human cooperation.

Keywords: Hadza, hunter-gatherers, social selection, partner choice, character, reputation, cooperation
Ronald Noë's insight:
This is one of a series of papers in which the partner choice criteria of the Hadza are analysed. The numbers are relatively small compared to other studies of human cooperation, simply because there are so few Hadza left that live in a traditional style.

What makes this paper of interest from my point of view is the distinction that is made between a 'biological market model' and a 'friendship model'. The following quote may illustrate the difference: "Whereas the biological market strategy is to be popular and valued by many, the friendship strategy is to be selective and discriminating with whom one interacts." (p. 7).

It was for me a bit hard to follow how the authors arrived at the following conclusion: "Together, these results suggest that preference for more cooperative partners do not play a role in maintaining cooperation among the Hadza."(p 32). What does this say about the two 'models' mentioned above? One reason, perhaps, that I didn't quite understand the reasons for this conclusion is that a definition of 'being cooperative' is lacking. As the authors explain in their Introduction, partner choice models should consider both the ability to produce and the willingness to share food (for example). For Hadza men (the productivity and skill in the real of food production of women was not considered) this means that both their hunting skills as well as their willingness to share meat are important. 'Hunting skill' comes out as an important factor in preference for camp mates, but generosity less so. But how is that weighted to decide whether a man is 'cooperative' then and whether 'cooperative' individuals are preferred as campmates ?

In spite of some puzzling points, this is certainly a paper worth reading for those interested in human cooperation.
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Schlunke (2019) Facing up to falsification PCES (Post-Crash Economics Society)

Schlunke (2019) Facing up to falsification PCES (Post-Crash Economics Society) | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Is it time for mainstream economics to take a good hard look in the mirror? Guest blogger, Eva Schlunke, suggests that the greatest consensus within the economics community is that it needs to be more scientific.
Ronald Noë's insight:
A plea to make economics more scientific in Popper's sense. The author proposes to look at behavioural and ecological economics - as well as the biological markets literature - for inspiration to start formulating faslifiable hypotheses.
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Hart, Bello Pineda, Chen, Green & Shou (2019). Disentangling strictly self-serving mutations from win-win mutations in a mutualistic microbial community. preprint ResearchGate

Hart, Bello Pineda, Chen, Green & Shou (2019). Disentangling strictly self-serving mutations from win-win mutations in a mutualistic microbial community. preprint ResearchGate | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: Mutualisms can be promoted by win-win mutations which directly benefit self (self-serving) and partner (partner-serving). Intuitively, partner-serving phenotype could be quantified as the benefit supply rate to partner by an individual. Here, we demonstrate the inadequacy of this thinking, and propose an alternative measure. Specifically, we evolved well-mixed mutualistic communities where two engineered yeast strains exchanged essential metabolites lysine and hypoxanthine. Among cells that consumed lysine and released hypoxanthine, a chromosome duplication mutation seemed win-win: it improved cell's affinity for lysine, and increased hypoxanthine release rate per cell. However, increased release rate was due to increased cell size accompanied by increased lysine consumption per birth. Consequently this mutation is solely self-serving, since a fixed amount of intake lysine leads to an identical total hypoxanthine release rate - either by more numerous lower-releasing ancestors or fewer higher-releasing mutants. By extension, individuals with reduced benefit production rates may not be cheaters.
Ronald Noë's insight:
I didn't digest this Ms yet, but it seems of relevance to those interested in applying BMT to microbes.

After some correspondence with the last author I decided not to write any further comment, because we agreed that this is not really about biological markets. BMT may well not be mentioned at all in the final version.
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Pereira, Rebelo, Casanova, Lee & Louca (2019). The dynamics of grooming interactions: maintenance of partner choice and the consequences of demographic variation for female mandrills. PeerJ, 7, e6332

Pereira, Rebelo, Casanova, Lee & Louca (2019). The dynamics of grooming interactions: maintenance of partner choice and the consequences of demographic variation for female mandrills. PeerJ, 7, e6332 | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: A large body of evidence suggests that female Old World monkeys maintain selective long-term grooming interactions with fitness benefits. The last two decades have produced evidence that the regulation of social interactions among primates can be, in part, explained by the Biological Markets theory, with grooming behaviour as the focus of these studies. Grooming facilitates bonding between individuals, constituting an essential part of the regulation of social relationships among female cercopithecids. In contrast to the well-studied baboons (Papio spp), knowledge about the nature of grooming interactions and their regulation is generally lacking for the large, terrestrial species of mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx). We used a combination of social network analysis tools and well-established methods for assessing partner diversity and reciprocity to characterise grooming networks, partner choice and patterns of trade (be groomed, give grooming) among females in a captive group of mandrills, both within and across two separate observation periods. Our results suggest that, even though the relatively stable conditions of captivity allowed the studied females to maintain selective grooming interactions across time, small scale demographic changes affected the grooming dynamics of the group in accordance with the expectations of the Biological Markets theory. In particular, the maturation and consequent integration of a high ranking female into the group’s grooming network from one period to the next resulted in a more pronounced effect of rank on the regulation of grooming interactions. In addition, the influence of the maturation of a dependent infant on the grooming interactions of his mother were evident between periods. Our results also demonstrate that grooming networks are dynamic and that high ranking individuals are not necessarily the most central in grooming networks. Finally, we discuss the potential of social network analysis to identify cases of social exclusion and its consequences for captive management.


Keywords: Mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) Social network analysis Grooming partner choice Grooming reciprocity Female grooming interactions

Ronald Noë's insight:
A typical 'grooming market' study in non-human primates on a relatively small group of captive mandril, but nicely done and with interesting results. I especially liked the carefully spelled out hypotheses and the systematic testing of these.
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Muggleton, Tarran & Fincher (2018). Who punishes promiscuous women? Both women and women, but only women inflict costly punishment. Evolution and Human Behavior

Muggleton, Tarran & Fincher (2018). Who punishes promiscuous women? Both women and women, but only women inflict costly punishment. Evolution and Human Behavior | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: Across human societies, female sexuality is suppressed by gendered double standards, slut shaming, sexist rape laws, and honour killings. The question of what motivates societies to punish promiscuous women, however, has been contested. Although some have argued that men suppress female sexuality to increase paternity certainty, others maintain that this is an example of intrasexual competition. Here we show that both sexes are averse to overt displays of female sexuality, but that motivation is sex-specific. In all studies, participants played an economic game with a female partner whose photograph either signalled that she was sexually-accessible or sexually-restricted. In study 1, we found that men and women are less altruistic in a Dictator Game (DG) when partnered with a woman signalling sexual-accessibility. Both sexes were less trusting of sexually-accessible women in a Trust Game (TG) (study 2); women (but not men), however, inflicted costly punishment on a sexually-accessible woman in an Ultimatum Game (UG) (study 3). Our results demonstrate that both sexes are averse to overt sexuality in women, whilst highlighting potential differences in motivation.

Keywords: Sexual suppression Sexist attitudes Intrasexual competition Evolutionary psychology Economic games
Ronald Noë's insight:
This is an interesting paper, but has one of the weirdest typos in the title that I have ever seen. Let's assume that "Both men and women.." is meant (or the other way around) and that this will be corrected in the final version.

The authors invoke BMT in the form introduced in this context by Baumeister and colleagues: the form and severity of sexual suppression depends on the state of the mating market and is a way of rigging the market in one's advantage.

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Cossins (2018). The animal economists that can wheel and deal as well as any human. New Scientist Christmas issue (online version)

Cossins (2018). The animal economists that can wheel and deal as well as any human. New Scientist Christmas issue (online version) | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

From monkey markets to fishy business, we’re finding that many animals make rational trades. Even brainless fungi have a thing or two to teach us.

Ronald Noë's insight:
A nice story by Daniel Cossins in the Christmas issue of New Scientist. He notably stresses the fact that one doesn't need a big brain - or any brain at all - to use sophisticated trading strategies.

Note that the same story appeared in print on the 21st of December under the title "Rogue traders"
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Sánchez-Amaro, Duguid, Call & Tomasello (2018). Chimpanzees’ understanding of social leverage. PLOS ONE, 13(12), e0207868

Sánchez-Amaro, Duguid, Call & Tomasello (2018). Chimpanzees’ understanding of social leverage. PLOS ONE, 13(12), e0207868 | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: Social primates can influence others through the control of resources. For instance, dominant male chimpanzees might allow subordinates access to mate with females in exchange for social support. However, little is known about how chimpanzees strategically use a position of leverage to maximize their own benefits. We address this question by presenting dyads of captive chimpanzee (N = 6) with a task resulting in an unequal reward distribution. To gain the higher reward each individual should wait for their partner to act. In addition, one participant had leverage: access to an alternative secure reward. By varying the presence and value of the leverage we tested whether individuals used it strategically (e.g. by waiting longer for partners to act when they had leverage in the form of alternatives). Additionally, non-social controls served to show if chimpanzees understood the social dilemma. We measured the likelihood to choose the leverage and their latencies to act. The final decision made by the chimpanzees did not differ as a function of condition (test versus non-social control) or the value of the leverage, but they did wait longer to act when the leverage was smaller—particularly in test (versus non-social control) trials suggesting that they understood the conflict of interest involved. The chimpanzees thus recognized the existence of social leverage, but did not use it strategically to maximize their rewards.

Ronald Noë's insight:
The authors ask a question that is also of interest in the context of BMT: do agents understand that they have leverage over theior partners thanks to outside options they have but their partners don't. Even though the typical outside option that is of interest in most biological markets is having alternative partners to choose from, non-social outside options (e.g. an abiotic source of the resource of interest at hand) should also have an effect. Alejandro Sanchez-Amara and colleagues set up an experiment of the latter kind: one chimpanzee had a non-social outside option, while the other didn't.

This is an interesting experiment, even though providing a social outside option yields - to my mind at least - a more relevant and more interesting experiment (see for an example from the same lab: Melis, Hare & Tomasello (2006). Chimpanzees recruit the best collaborators. Science, 311(5765), 1297-1300).

What I don't quite see is that understanding the fact that one has leverage and hence can use it is such a congitive challenge. In most cases the agent will learn by simple trial-and-error that their conspecifics are willing to pay more or demand less than in situations in which the outside options lack. Wasps, for example , can do that too (Grinsted  & Field (2017). Market forces influence helping behaviour in cooperatively breeding paper wasps. Nature Communications, 8, 13750). In the vervet example cited in the paper (Fruteau et al 2009 PNAS) we didn't assume that the task was cognitive demanding for the female. On the contrarey, the real problem was for those that had to learn to wait to approach the baited food container (Fruteau, van Damme & Noë (2013). Vervet monkeys solve a multiplayer “Forbidden Circle Game” by queuing to learn restraint. Current Biology, 23(8), 665-670).
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Herrmann, Engelmann & Tomasello (2019). Children engage in competitive altruism. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 179, 176-189

Herrmann, Engelmann & Tomasello (2019). Children engage in competitive altruism. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 179, 176-189 | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: Humans cultivate their reputations as good cooperators, sometimes even competing with group mates, to appear most cooperative to individuals during the process of selecting partners. To investigate the ontogenetic origins of such “competitive altruism,” we presented 5- and 8-year-old children with a dyadic sharing game in which both children simultaneously decided how many rewards to share with each other. The children were either observed by a third-person peer or not. In addition, the children either knew that one of them would be picked for a subsequent collaborative game or had no such knowledge. We found that by 8 years of age, children were more generous in the sharing game not only when their behavior was observed by a third party but also when it could affect their chances of being chosen for a subsequent game. This is the first demonstration of competitive altruism in young children, and as such it underscores the important role of partner choice (and individual awareness of the process) in encouraging human cooperation from an early age.

Keywords: Competitive altruism Reputation Cooperation Partner choice Dyadic sharing game 5- and 8-year-old children
Ronald Noë's insight:
A borderline case for these pages perhaps, but highly interesting: the ontogeny of strategies in situations in which being chosen as a partner depends on one's reputation and hence strategies to outcompete competitors in this respect.

Also interesting to see that the importance of partner choice in the context of coperation (slowly) gains recognition among psychologists.
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Sparrowe (2018). LMX and welfare trade-off ratios: An evolutionary perspective on leader-member relations. The Leadership Quarterly

Sparrowe (2018). LMX and welfare trade-off ratios: An evolutionary perspective on leader-member relations. The Leadership Quarterly | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: A growing stream of theory and research in evolutionary psychology proposes that people mentally represent dyadic relationships through an internal regulatory variable, the “Welfare Tradeoff Ratio.” I introduce welfare tradeoff theory and indicate how it speaks to the problematic distinction between social exchanges and relationship quality in Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) theory and research. I then address issues related to leader-member agreement, LMX development, upward impression management, emotions in leader-member relationships and LMX differentiation from the perspective of welfare tradeoffs. Implications and consideration of measurement also are discussed.
Ronald Noë's insight:
The author makes an interesting connection between the dynamics of leader - follower ('member') relationships and Pat Barclay's brand of biological market theory.
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Ortega Ballesteros (2018). A comparative study of sociality and prosociality in geladas, Theropithecus gelada, and mandrills, Mandrillus Sphinx. (doctoral thesis Madrid)

Ortega Ballesteros (2018). A comparative study of sociality and prosociality in geladas, Theropithecus gelada, and mandrills, Mandrillus Sphinx. (doctoral thesis Madrid) | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Sociality or group living has evolved independently in many animal taxa, but only in some of them it is based on social bonds between group members that are serviced through the exchange of a variety of social behaviours with multiple partners. This bonded sociality of nonhuman (and human) primates and of a few other taxa stands out for its reliance on prosociality or cooperation between individuals who typically know well one another and who engage in long-term, highly individualized partnerships. The patterns of sociality and prosociality observed in primates reflect trade-offs between several antagonistic but equally welfare- and fitness-enhancing activities and, ultimately, are the outcome of the way the individuals skilfully manage their inevitable conflicts of interest through strategies of aggressive competition, cooperation and post-conflict reconciliation. Contemporary theory on primate sociality and prosociality emphasizes the need for integrating socioecology (i.e., ecological, demographic and social factors), phylogeny (i.e., evolutionary history) and life history (i.e., life history traits) in any account of the proximate and ultimate causes of variation in primate social systems.
Ronald Noë's insight:
Contains a chapter with a test of BMT.
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"Not your typical fish market" by Rebecca Parsons (Georgia Dolphins Ecology Program)

"Not your typical fish market" by Rebecca Parsons (Georgia Dolphins Ecology Program) | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

First par.: Obviously, we here at GDEP have a lot of love for big, charismatic, marine animals. Marine mammals such as orcas and dolphins are known for their intelligence, complex social structure, and beauty. We could go on and on about the interesting facets of cetacean species (and we have), but today we’re taking a moment to appreciate the not-so-glamorous little guys, the unsung heroes of the deep sea.

Ronald Noë's insight:
A popular science-style account of "fish markets"in the sense of BMT. Unfortunately there is one consistent misspelling: Redouan's surname is Bsary, not Bshari
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Mielke, Preis, Samuni, Gogarten, Wittig & Crockford (2018). Flexible decision-making in grooming partner choice in sooty mangabeys and chimpanzees. Royal Society Open Science, 5(7)

Mielke, Preis, Samuni, Gogarten, Wittig & Crockford (2018). Flexible decision-making in grooming partner choice in sooty mangabeys and chimpanzees. Royal Society Open Science, 5(7) | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: Living in permanent social groups forces animals to make decisions about when, how and with whom to interact, requiring decisions to be made that integrate multiple sources of information. Changing social environments can influence this decision-making process by constraining choice or altering the likelihood of a positive outcome. Here, we conceptualized grooming as a choice situation where an individual chooses one of a number of potential partners. Studying two wild populations of sympatric primate species, sooty mangabeys ( Cercocebus atys atys ) and western chimpanzees ( Pan troglodytes verus ), we tested what properties of potential partners influenced grooming decisions, including their relative value based on available alternatives and the social relationships of potential partners with bystanders who could observe the outcome of the decision. Across 1529 decision events, multiple partner attributes (e.g. dominance ranks, social relationship quality, reproductive state, partner sex) influenced choice. Individuals preferred to initiate grooming with partners of similar global rank, but this effect was driven by a bias towards partners with a high rank compared to other locally available options. Individuals also avoided grooming partners who had strong social relationships with at least one bystander. Results indicated flexible decision-making in grooming interactions in both species, based on a partner's value given the local social environment. Viewing partner choice as a value-based decision-making process allows researchers to compare how different species solve similar social problems.


Keywaords: grooming bystanders sooty mangabey chimpanzee decision-making

Ronald Noë's insight:
What is really nice about this paper, is that the authors consider the decisions of primates who to groom when and for how long, as a result of a dynamic decision process the outcome of which can be different from day to day and situation to situation. The paper gives the impression that we are finally approaching the end of a long road that started with tit-for-tatting individuals taking always the same kind of decisions based on rigid rules that took a limited number of parameters such as kinship, rank-distance and the (recent) experiences with the same partner into account.
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Wipf, Krajinski & Courty (2019). Trading on the arbuscular mycorrhiza market: from arbuscules to common mycorrhizal networks. New Phytologist

Abstract: Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis occurs between obligate biotrophic fungi of the phylum Glomeromycota and most of land plants. The exchange of nutrients between host plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi is presumed to be the main benefit for the two symbiotic partners. In this review article, we outline the current concepts of nutrient exchanges within this symbiosis (mechanisms and regulation). First, we focus on phosphorus and nitrogen transfer from the fungal partner to the host plant and on the reciprocal transfer of carbon compounds, with a highlight on a possible interplay between nitrogen and phosphorus nutrition during arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. We further discuss potential mechanisms of regulation of these nutrient exchanges linked to membrane dynamics. The review finally addresses the common mycorrhizal networks formed by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which inter-connect plants from similar and/or different species. Then the best way to integrate this knowledge and the ensuing potential benefits of arbuscular mycorrhiza in a sustainable agriculture is discussed.

Keywords: arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis mineral nutrition carbon supply transporters membrane lipids common mycorrhizal networks plant–plant interactions
Ronald Noë's insight:
This is a thorough review, but not - in spite of what the title suggests - about markets, biological or otherwise. The term market is used only once in the text and in connection with references that make no sense. Perhaps more telling: the term '(partner) choice' isn't used at all. A worrisome lack of knowledge of the relevant literature, as far as BMT is concerned.
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Witteveen (2019). Biological markets, cooperation, and the evolution of morality. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Witteveen (2019). Biological markets, cooperation, and the evolution of morality. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract. Biological market theory has in recent years become an important part of the social evolutionist’s toolkit. This article discusses the explanatory potential and pitfalls of biological market theory in the context of big picture accounts of the evolution of human cooperation and morality. I begin by assessing an influential account that presents biological market dynamics as a key driver of the evolution of fairness norms in humans. I argue that this account is problematic for theoretical, empirical, and conceptual reasons. After mapping the evidential and explanatory limits of biological market theory, I suggest that it can nevertheless fill a lacuna in an alternative account of hominin evolution. Trade on a biological marketplace can help explain why norm-based cooperation did not break down when our Late Pleistocene ancestors entered new, challenging social and economic environments.

Ronald Noë's insight:
This is a critique of the use of BMT by notably Baumard, André and Debove in their explanation of the evolution of fairness in humans. This is certainly an interesting paper worth reading, even though I had a few doubts here and there. I will not react to the main points raised, since the authors mentioned above are better placed for that.

In one argument the paper heavily leans on a review of the use of BMT for non-human primates by Sanchez-Amaro and Amici. This review attracted some strong responses (by Dunayer and Berman as well as Kaburu and Newton-Fisher - also cited in the paper). I would thus recommend to seek better sources to support this particular argument. In connection to this, I think the author strongly underestimates what 'emotional bookkeeping' can do. In order to be compatible with BMT, the agents studied don't need to think in terms of supply and demand ratios. Rather, their behaviour has to result in outcomes that are equivalent to those of rational optimizers. How they do that is interesting, but largely irelevant in this context. Put in other words: one may well have a feeling that a steak is worth a lot on one day and worth less on another day. The latter may be due to a large supply of beef that same day, but also because one has just eaten a nice fish. Calculations with the belly also work.

I was irritated by the use, once more, of Kahnemann's damned snowshovels in another argument. Considering a rise in price during a snowstorm as 'unfair' is not a reliable sign of the sense of fairness in modern humans but rather a sign that people are myopic in an economic context (perhaps simply because they didn't have the time to think this through). Of course it is fair that those shopkeepers that take the risk of buying snowshovels in the summer and pay the price of stocking them, cash in at the moment the unpredictable event materialises. I don't think Pleistocene people have blamed the hunter that took high risks and bagged a rare prey for asking a high exchange rate ('price') for his meat. 
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Carter, Farine, Crisp, Vrtilek, Ripperger & Page (2019). Development of new food-sharing relationships among nonkin vampire bats. bioRXiv

Carter, Farine, Crisp, Vrtilek, Ripperger & Page (2019). Development of new food-sharing relationships among nonkin vampire bats. bioRXiv | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: In an individualized animal society, social bonds can foster cooperation and enhance survival and reproduction. Cooperative bonds often exist among kin, but nonkin can also develop high-investment cooperative bonds that share similarities with human friendship. How do such bonds form? One theory suggests that strangers should ‘test the waters’ of a new relationship by making small initial cooperative investments and gradually escalating them with good partners. This ‘raising-the-stakes’ strategy is demonstrated by human strangers in short-term economic games, but it remains unclear whether it applies to helping in a natural long-term social bond. Here we show evidence that unfamiliar vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) selectively escalate low-cost investments in allogrooming before developing higher-cost food-sharing relationships. We introduced females from geographically distant sites in pairs or groups and observed that bats established new reciprocal grooming relationships, and that increasing grooming rates predicted the occurrence of first food donations, at which point grooming rates no longer increased. New food-sharing relationships emerged reciprocally in 14% of female pairs, typically over 10-15 months, and developed faster when strangers lacked alternative familiar partners. A gradual grooming-to-sharing transition among past strangers suggests that ‘raising the stakes’ might be more evident when tracking multiple cooperative behaviours as new relationships form, rather than measuring a single behavior in an established relationship. ‘Raising the stakes’ could play a similar underappreciated role across a broader spectrum of social decisions with long-term consequences, such as joining a new social group or forming a long-term pair-bond.

Keywords: cooperation, social relationships, vampire bats
Ronald Noë's insight:
This is a test of the use of the 'raising-the-stakes' strategy (Roberts, G. & Sherratt, T. N. (1998). Development of cooperative relationships through increasing investment. Nature, 394, 175-179) during the formation of long-term relationships ('bonds') in vampire bats rather than a test of BMT. Hoever, one result is relevant to BMT too: strangers placed in pairs reach the stage at which they start exchanging blood faster than strangers placed in groups of 4. I interpret this as an effect due to the option of partner choice and the time it takes of testing the waters with multiple potential partners.
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Titus, Daly, Vondriska, Hamilton & Exton (2019). Lack of strategic service provisioning by Pederson’s cleaner shrimp (Ancylomenes pedersoni) highlights independent evolution of cleaning behaviors b...

Titus, Daly, Vondriska, Hamilton & Exton (2019). Lack of strategic service provisioning by Pederson’s cleaner shrimp (Ancylomenes pedersoni) highlights independent evolution of cleaning behaviors b... | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: Marine cleaning interactions have been useful model systems for exploring evolutionary game theory and explaining the stability of mutualism. In the Indo-Pacific, cleaner organisms will occasionally “cheat” and remove live tissue, clients use partner control mechanisms to maintain cleaner honesty, and cleaners strategically increase service quality for predatory clients that can “punish” more severely. The extent to which reef communities in the Caribbean have evolved similar strategies for maintaining the stability of these symbioses is less clear. Here we study the strategic service provisioning in Pederson’s cleaner shrimp (Ancylomenes pedersoni) on Caribbean coral reefs. In the Gulf of Honduras, we use video observations to analyze >1000 cleaning interactions and record >850 incidents of cheating. We demonstrate that A. pedersoni cheat frequently and do not vary their service quality based on client trophic position or cleaner shrimp group size. As a direct analog to the cleaner shrimp A. longicarpus in the Indo-Pacific, our study highlights that although cleaning interactions in both ocean basins are ecologically analogous and result in parasite removal, the strategic behaviors that mediate these interactions have evolved independently in cleaner shrimps.

Ronald Noë's insight:
This paper concentrates on the role of partner control, ratzher than partner choice, in a cleaning mutualism, but is nevertheless of interest for BMT because cleaning is a well-documented example of a biological market.
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Falco, Albinet, Rattat, Paul & Fabre (2019). Being the chosen one: social inclusion modulates decisions in the ultimatum game. An ERP study. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience

Falco, Albinet, Rattat, Paul & Fabre (2019). Being the chosen one: social inclusion modulates decisions in the ultimatum game. An ERP study. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: In the present study, participants played a modified ultimatum game simulating a situation of inclusion/exclusion, in which either the participant or a rival could be selected to play as the responder. This selection was made either randomly by a computer (i.e. random pairing mode) or by the proposer (i.e. choice mode), based on physical appearance. Being chosen by the proposer triggered positive reciprocal behavior in participants, who accepted unfair offers more frequently than when they had been selected by the computer. Independently of selection mode, greater P200 amplitudes were found when participants received fair offers than when they received unfair offers and when unfair shares were offered to their rivals rather than to them, suggesting that receiving fair offers or observing a rival’s misfortune was rewarding for participants. While participants generally showed more interest in the offers they themselves received (i.e. greater P300 responses to these offers), observing their rivals receive fair shares after the latter had been chosen by the proposer triggered an increase in P300 amplitude likely to reflect a feeling of envy. This study provides new insights into both the cognitive and affective processes underpinning economic decision making in a context of social inclusion/exclusion.


Keywords: ultimatum game, social inclusion/exclusion, biological market, responder, ERP

Ronald Noë's insight:
Partner choice in an ultimatum game setting: either the proposer or a computer chooses the responder among two candidates. Remarkable is that the proposer chooses on physical appearance rather than on a criterion that could eventually be (more directly) linked to strategic behaviour.
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Austin, Horack & Dunlap (2018). Choice in a floral marketplace: the role of complexity in bumble bee decision-making. Behavioral Ecology

Austin, Horack & Dunlap (2018). Choice in a floral marketplace: the role of complexity in bumble bee decision-making. Behavioral Ecology | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: Animals have evolved in complex, heterogeneous environments. Thus, decision-making behavior is likely affected by a diversity of cooccurring community-level traits. Here, we investigate how 3 co-occurring traits of floral communities—the number of flower types, reliability that flowers are associated with a reward, and signal complexity of flowers—affect bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) decision- making. We used arrays of artificial flowers in a full factorial experimental design to assess floral selectivity (preference and constancy), foraging efficiency, and decision latency in foraging bumble bees. We find that our environmental traits uniquely affect each of these behavioral variables, revealing the intricate, yet biologically significant ways that co-occurring environmental traits can affect behavior. Floral selectivity, but not foraging efficiency, is increased by a greater number of choices. Decision latency is greatest when bees are inexperienced foraging in environments with high choice number. Collectively taken, we argue that these results suggest a cost to deciding among many choices, which promotes choice fidelity when many options are present. We suggest that these results have implications for theory on decision-making and selection in biological markets, while demonstrating the importance of studying interactions between naturally co-occurring traits.


Keywords: Bombus, constancy, decision-making, floral selectivity, foraging theory, rationality theory

Ronald Noë's insight:
The authors explore the effect of having more - and more complex - choices on foraging bumblebees. They compare their findigns with the results of studies of (human) consumer behaviour which were confronted with either few or many choices between comparable products in supermarkets.

I think the authors are correct in claiming that their results are relevant to many other types of biological markets in with the members of either or both trader classes have multiple choices based on multiple cues of varying complexity and reliability.
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Dreyer, Spitz, Kanonenberg ... (2019). Nutrient exchange in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis from a thermodynamic point of view. New Phytologist

Dreyer, Spitz, Kanonenberg ... (2019). Nutrient exchange in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis from a thermodynamic point of view. New Phytologist | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: To get insights into the dynamics of nutrient exchange in arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis, we modelled mathematically the two-membrane system at the plant–fungus interface and simulated its dynamics. In computational cell biology experiments, the full range of nutrient transport pathways was tested for their ability to exchange phosphorus (P) / carbon (C) / nitrogen (N) sources. As a result, we obtained a thermodynamically justified, independent, and comprehensive model of the dynamics of the nutrient exchange at the plant–fungus contact zone. The predicted optimal transporter network coincides with the transporter set independently confirmed in wet-lab experiments previously, indicating that all essential transporter types have been discovered. The thermodynamic analyses suggest that phosphate is released from the fungus via proton-coupled phosphate transporters rather than anion channels. Optimal transport pathways, such as cation channels or proton-coupled symporters, shuttle nutrients along with a positive charge across the membranes. Only in exceptional cases, also the electroneutral transport via diffusion facilitators appears plausible. The thermodynamic models presented here can be generalised and adapted to other forms of mycorrhiza and open the door for future studies combining wet-lab experiments with computational simulations to obtain a deeper understanding of the investigated phenomena.

Keywords: computational cell biology nutrient transport plant–fungus interaction plant biophysics modelling
Ronald Noë's insight:
The following quote from the paper gives the reason why you see this here: "The question “How harmonious are AM symbioses?” is still widely discussed (Smith & Smith, 2015), and each experiment approaches this topic from a different perspective. A reasonable and rather successful concept describes AM symbiosis as a biological market (Kiers et al., 2011; Hammerstein & Noë, 2016; Noë & Kiers, 2018). In this context, our model now explains the thermodynamic basis of the underlying market forces".

It is my habit to list all authors of a paper, but in this case that didn't fit. Here is the full list: Dreyer, I., O. Spitz, K. Kanonenberg, K. Montag, M. Handrich, S. Ahmad, S. Schott-Verdugo, C. Navarro-Retamal, M. E. Rubio-Meléndez, J. L. Gomez-Porras, J. Riedelsberger, M. A. Molina-Montenegro, A. Succurro, A. Zuccaro, S. B. Gould, P. Bauer, L. Schmitt and H. Gohlke
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Berthier & Semple (2018). Observing grooming promotes affiliation in Barbary macaques. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285(1893), 20181964

Berthier & Semple (2018). Observing grooming promotes affiliation in Barbary macaques. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285(1893), 20181964 | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: Observing friendly social interactions makes people feel good and, as a result, then act in an affiliative way towards others. Positive visual contagion of this kind is common in humans, but whether it occurs in non-human animals is unknown. We explored the impact on female Barbary macaques of observing grooming, a behaviour that physiological and behavioural studies indicate has a relaxing effect on the animals involved. We compared females' behaviour between two conditions: after observing conspecifics groom, and in a matched control period. We found that observing grooming was associated with reduced behavioural indicators of anxiety, suggesting that seeing others groom is, in itself, relaxing. Observing grooming was also associated with a shorter latency to becoming involved in a grooming bout (and higher likelihood both of initiating that bout and being the groomer rather than groomee), and with elevated rates of other affiliative behaviours. These results provide evidence for positive visual contagion; this phenomenon may contribute fundamentally to group cohesion not just in this species, but also in the many mammal and bird species where grooming occurs. Our study highlights the importance of exploring social behaviour beyond the level of the interacting individuals, within the broader social context where it occurs.

Keywords: cooperation social audience eavesdrop social network primate
Ronald Noë's insight:
Could/should be of interest to those working on 'grooming markets', notably in primates
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Albrecht, Hagge, Schabo, Schaefer & Farwig (2018). Reward regulation in plant–frugivore networks requires only weak cues. Nature Communications, 9(1), 4838

Albrecht, Hagge, Schabo, Schaefer & Farwig (2018). Reward regulation in plant–frugivore networks requires only weak cues. Nature Communications, 9(1), 4838 | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

A challenge for mutualists is that partner cue reliability is often low. Here, the authors show that though fruit brightness is weakly predictive of nutritional content, the diets of birds (e.g. migrants vs. residents) are structured by fruit brightness in alignment with expected nutritional needs.


Abstract: Theory assumes that fair trade among mutualists requires highly reliable communication. In plant–animal mutualisms the reliability of cues that indicate reward quality is often low. Therefore, it is controversial whether communication allows animal mutualists to regulate their reward intake. Here we show that even loose relationships between fruit brightness and nutritional rewards (r2 = 0.11–0.35) allow birds to regulate their nutrient intake across distinct European plant–frugivore networks. Resident, over-wintering generalist frugivores that interact with diverse plant species select bright, lipid-rich fruits, whereas migratory birds select dark, sugar- and antioxidant-rich fruits. Both nutritional strategies are consistent with previous physiological experiments suggesting that over-wintering generalists aim to maximize their energy intake, whereas migrants aim to enhance the build-up of body fat, their immune response and oxidative status during migration. Our results suggest that animal mutualists require only weak cues to regulate their reward intake according to specific nutritional strategies.

Ronald Noë's insight:
The paper shows that the reliability of cues of reward quality ('advertisements') don't have to be very reliable in order to make selection on quality through partner chocie work, as long as there are many partners to choose from (here notably the fruits of many plant species by generalist frugivorous birds) and the interaction is repeated (i.e. the same individual bird visists the same individual plant many times and hence checks the quality of its fruit repeatedly).

In the last sentence of their Discussion the authors explain themselves why this paper is listed here: "In a broader context, our results support the idea that, in analogy to human markets, plant–animal mutualistic networks can be considered as biological markets in which consumers rely on advertisement by producers to select those partners whose offer best matches their specific demands."
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Loverdo, & Viciana (2018). Cultural transmission and biological markets. Biology & Philosophy (via Philsci-Archive)

Loverdo, & Viciana (2018). Cultural transmission and biological markets. Biology & Philosophy (via Philsci-Archive) | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: Active cultural transmission of fitness-enhancing behavior (sometimes called “teaching”) can be seen as a costly strategy: one for which its evolutionary stability poses a Darwinian puzzle. In this article, we offer a biological market model of cultural transmission that substitutes or complements existing kin selection-based proposals for the evolution of cultural capacities. We explicitly demonstrate how a biological market can account for the evolution of teaching when individual learners are the exclusive focus of social learning (such as in a fast-changing environment). We also show how this biological market can affect the dynamics of cumulative culture. The model works best when it is difficult to have access to the observation of the behavior without the help of the actor. However, in contrast to previous non-mathematical hypotheses for the evolution of teaching, we show how teaching evolves even when innovations are insufficiently opaque and therefore vulnerable to acquisition by emulators via inadvertent transmission. Furthermore, teaching in a biological market is an important precondition for enhancing individual learning abilities

Keywords: Social learning Comparative advantage Teaching Cumulative culture Partner choice
Ronald Noë's insight:
The authors construct a biological market model based on the trade between teachers and learners in which the latter pay the teachers for aquired skills and knowledge by deference and an increase in prestige
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Phelps, Ng,  Musolesi & Russell (2018). Precise time-matching in chimpanzee allogrooming does not occur after a short delay. PLOS ONE, 13(9), e0201810

Phelps, Ng,  Musolesi & Russell (2018). Precise time-matching in chimpanzee allogrooming does not occur after a short delay. PLOS ONE, 13(9), e0201810 | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Allogrooming is a key aspect of chimpanzee sociality and many studies have investigated the role of reciprocity in a biological market. One theoretical form of reciprocity is time-matching, where payback consists of an equal duration of effort (e.g. twenty seconds of grooming repaid with twenty seconds of grooming). Here, we report a study of allogrooming in a group of twenty-six captive chimpanzees (Chester Zoo, UK), based on more than 150 hours of data. For analysis, we introduce a methodological innovation called the “Delta scale”, which unidimensionally measures the accuracy of time-matching according to the extent of delay after the cessation of grooming. Delta is positive when reciprocation occurs after any non-zero delay (e.g. A grooms B and then B grooms A after a five second break) and it is negative when reciprocation begins whilst the original grooming has not yet ceased. Using a generalized linear mixed-method, we found evidence for time-matched reciprocation. However, this was true only for immediate reciprocation (Delta less than zero). If there was a temporal break in grooming between two members of a dyad, then there was no evidence that chimpanzees were using new bouts to retroactively correct for time-matching imbalances from previous bouts. Our results have implications for some of the cognitive constraints that differentiate real-life reciprocation from abstract theoretical models. Furthermore, we suggest that some apparent patterns of time-matched reciprocity may arise merely due to the law of large numbers, and we introduce a statistical test which takes this into account when aggregating grooming durations over a window of time.
Ronald Noë's insight:
(comment follows)
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Noë & Kiers (2018). "Mycorrhizal markets, firms, and co-ops." Trends in Ecology & Evolution (online) ScienceDirect

Noë & Kiers (2018). "Mycorrhizal markets, firms, and co-ops." Trends in Ecology & Evolution (online) ScienceDirect | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Highlights:
 The mutualism between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi shows several market characteristics, including partner choice and adjustments to supply and demand.

Nutrient exchanges via communally formed arbuscules reduce trading costs the same way the formation of firms reduces ‘transaction costs’ on human markets.

Plants may discriminate among individual arbuscules, which are associated with subsets of the many nuclei found in a single fungus.

Subsets of polymorphic nuclei acting in unison are like co-ooperatives (‘co-ops’), institutions midway between independently acting traders and firms, that help traders coordinate their trading strategies and reduce competition among themselves.

Future models of the evolution of mycorrhizal mutualisms should concurrently incorporate their market-, firm-, and co-op-like characteristics.

Abstract: The nutrient exchange mutualism between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMFs) and their host plants qualifies as a biological market, but several complications have hindered its appropriate use. First, fungal ‘trading agents’ are hard to identify because AMFs are potentially heterokaryotic, that is, they may contain large numbers of polymorphic nuclei. This means it is difficult to define and study a fungal ‘individual’ acting as an independent agent with a specific trading strategy. Second, because nutrient exchanges occur via communal structures (arbuscules), this temporarily reduces outbidding competition and transaction costs and hence resembles exchanges among divisions of firms, rather than traditional trade on markets. We discuss how fungal nuclei may coordinate their trading strategies, but nevertheless retain some independence, similar to human co-operatives (co-ops).

Keywords: arbuscular mycorrhizal fungibiological market theorymycorrhizal mutualismnutrient exchange mutualism
Ronald Noë's insight:
I perhaps better don't comment on my own papers, except perhaps to say that this is a special paper in several ways, among other things because it is the fruit of a cooperation between a mycorrhiza expert and an (ex-) primatologist and because it came online the last day before my retirement.

I hope it contains a few ideas worth giving a bit of thought.
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