Biological Markets
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Biological Markets
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Whiteside, Werner, Caldas, van’t Padje, Dupin, Elbers, Bakker, Wyatt, Klein, Hink, Postma, Vaitla, Noë, Shimizu, West & Kiers (2019). Mycorrhizal fungi respond to resource inequality by moving phos...

Whiteside, Werner, Caldas, van’t Padje, Dupin, Elbers, Bakker, Wyatt, Klein, Hink, Postma, Vaitla, Noë, Shimizu, West & Kiers (2019). Mycorrhizal fungi respond to resource inequality by moving phos... | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: The world's ecosystems are characterized by an unequal distribution of resources [1]. Trade partnerships between organisms of different species?mutualisms?can help individuals cope with such resource inequality [2?4]. Trade allows individuals to exchange commodities they can provide at low cost for resources that are otherwise impossible or more difficult to access [5, 6]. However, as resources become increasingly patchy in time or space, it is unknown how organisms alter their trading strategies [7, 8]. Here, we show how a symbiotic fungus mediates trade with a host root in response to different levels of resource inequality across its network. We developed a quantum-dot-tracking technique to quantify phosphorus-trading strategies of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi simultaneously exposed to rich and poor resource patches. By following fluorescent nanoparticles of different colors across fungal networks, we determined where phosphorus was hoarded, relocated, and transferred to plant hosts. We found that increasing exposure to inequality stimulated trade. Fungi responded to high resource variation by (1) increasing the total amount of phosphorus distributed to host roots, (2) decreasing allocation to storage, and (3) differentially moving resources within the network from rich to poor patches. Using single-particle tracking and high-resolution video, we show how dynamic resource movement may help the fungus capitalize on value differences across the trade network, physically moving resources to areas of high demand to gain better returns. Such translocation strategies can help symbiotic organisms cope with exposure to resource inequality.


Keywords: biological markets symbiosis hoarding mutualism arbuscular mycorrhizae conflict cooperation quantum dots economics inequality

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Cosmides, Guzmán & Tooby (2019). The evolution of moral cognition. In A. Zimmerman, K. Jones & M. Timmons (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Moral Epistemology (1st ed.). New York: Routledge.

Cosmides, Guzmán & Tooby (2019). The evolution of moral cognition. In A. Zimmerman, K. Jones & M. Timmons (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Moral Epistemology (1st ed.). New York: Routledge. | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: Natural selection produces cognitive systems that are well designed for solving ancestral adaptive problems. For a group-living species like our own, this principle implies that interacting with others will be regulated by sophisticated cognitive systems. Here we explain how evolutionary game theory is used to identify ancestral problems of social interaction and what counted as adaptive solutions to these problems during our evolutionary past. We start with a detailed examination of selection pressures that shape mechanisms for interacting with kin; these specify an envelope of conditions in which selection favors (i) acting with beneficence toward kin and (ii) avoiding sexual contact with kin. By combining these analyses with knowledge of how our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived, evolutionary psychologists were able to develop and test hypotheses about the computational design of systems regulating interaction with kin. These cognitive adaptations produce intuitions about how we ought to treat kin and how kin ought to treat us—moral intuitions about duties of beneficence and sexual prohibitions. We then consider selection for cooperation with unrelated individuals and how this differs from interactions with kin. Topics include the evolution of cooperation by partner control (punishment) versus partner choice; collective action; and the role of luck versus effort in sharing. Research guided by these theories suggests that selection has produced adaptations that generate different moral inferences in each of these domains. Capturing this moral diversity may require normative theories that embrace moral pluralism—brands of ethical intuitionism, moral sentimentalism, or virtue ethics.

Ronald Noë's insight:
In this book chapter the authors review partner control and partner choice models of the evolution of cooperation in humans and the moral cognition implicated in cooperative behaviour.
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Blute (2019). Mating markets: A naturally selected sex allocation theory of sexual selection. Biological Theory

Blute (2019). Mating markets: A naturally selected sex allocation theory of sexual selection. Biological Theory | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: This article utilizes three premises. (1) There are commonly ecologically oriented, naturally selected specialized differences in frequency and/or quality as well as sexually selected differences between the sexes. (2) Sex in the sense of coming together and going apart (syngamy and meiosis in haploids) or going apart and coming together (meiosis and syngamy in diploids) is trade in these naturally selected differences, i.e., there is a mating market in sexual species. (3) While such trade is beneficial to the population as a whole, sexual competition and selection is conflict over the profits of that trade and can be detrimental to the population as a whole. These premises yield a naturally selected sex allocation theory of the possible directions and forms of sexual selection, i.e., one that includes costs as well as frequencies. This can explain conventional sex roles, the sex-role reversed, inter- as well as intrasexual selection, and passive as well as active choice. Any of these alternatives may be over mates, over gametes, or both. A hypothetical example based on density dependence relative to resources is provided, one that suggests that centrioles may be a cytoplasmic resource in males in multicellular animals, and which are the target of active choice and the mechanism of manipulation in passive female choice. As a whole, the approach yields a truly general theory of sexual selection, provides an alternative to the mechanism for Fisher’s principle, and gives a theoretical explanation for Mayr’s biological species definition.


Keywords: Centrioles Density dependence Fisher’s principle Mating markets Sex allocation and sexual selection Species definition

Ronald Noë's insight:
If one wants to think about 'mating markets', one can basically start from two points: sex allocation theory, i.e. differential allocation of resources to male and female reproduction which then predicts sex ratios (Fisher's principle), or sex ratios ('adult' or 'operational') that result from varied ecological conditions under natural selection. In this paper Marion Blute endeavours to combine these two starting points into a single theory of sexual selection. Whether she succeeds or not I cannot judge, to be honest, because I had some trouble following the argument. I wanted to list this paper here nevertheless and leave it to those interested to see for themselves.
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Dunayer, Tyrrell, Balasubramaniam & Berman (2019). Time matching between grooming partners: Do methodological distinctions between short versus long-term reciprocation matter? American Journal of P...

Dunayer, Tyrrell, Balasubramaniam & Berman (2019). Time matching between grooming partners: Do methodological distinctions between short versus long-term reciprocation matter? American Journal of P... | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: Primatologists have long focused on grooming exchanges to examine aspects of social relationships, co-operation, and social cognition. One particular interest is the extent to which reciprocating grooming partners time match, and the time frame over which they do so. Conclusions about time matching vary across species. Generally, researchers focus on the duration of pauses between grooming episodes that involve a switch in partner roles and choose a cut-off point to distinguish short from longer-term reciprocation. Problematically, researchers have made inconsistent choices about cut-offs. Such methodological variations are potentially concerning, as it is unclear whether inconsistent conclusions about short-term time matching are attributable to species/ecological differences, or are due in part to methodological inconsistency. We ask whether various criteria for separating short versus long-term reciprocation influence conclusions about short-term time matching using data from free-ranging rhesus ( Macaca mulatta) and captive-crested macaques ( Macaca nigra). We compare several commonly used cut-offs to ones generated by the currently preferred approach?survival analysis. Crested macaques displayed a mild degree of time matching regardless of the cutoff used. For rhesus macaques, whereas most cut-offs yielded similar degrees of time matching as the one derived from survival analysis, very short ones significantly underestimated both the degree of time matching and the influence of rank distance on time matching. Although researchers may have some flexibility in their choice of cut-offs, we suggest that they employ caution by using survival analysis when possible, and when not possible, by avoiding very short time windows.

Keywords: grooming macaques short-term reciprocation survival analysis time matching
Ronald Noë's insight:
This is a rather technical paper, but of potential interest to those wondering whether BMT can contribute to our understanding of primate grooming patterns. However, the authors' own opinion is rather puzzling, at least to me. One key quote: "Evidence of short‐term reciprocity was considered to be consistent with market‐based exchanges, whereas evidence of reciprocity over longer temporal intervals". This idea has puzzled me for years. I know where it comes from - 2nd hand interpretations of Barrett & Henzi 2002 - but how is it possible that people consider this the prediction that BMT makes about primate grooming? It doesn't, simply because BMT makes no predictions either way. What BMT does is add the mechanism of partner choice to the earlier proposed partner control mechanisms (tit-for-tat and the like). Both can lead to balanced grooming budgets ('reciprocity' for some) over all kinds of time frames, but partner choice can explain unbalanced budgets better than partner control. To really understand what is going on, one will have to look at the dynamics rather than the outcomes and, if at all possible, do experiments.
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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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Hart, Pineda, Chen, Green & Shou (2019). Disentangling strictly self-serving mutations from win-win mutations in a mutualistic microbial community. eLife, 8, e44812

Hart, Pineda, Chen, Green & Shou (2019). Disentangling strictly self-serving mutations from win-win mutations in a mutualistic microbial community. eLife, 8, e44812 | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Abstract: Mutualisms can be promoted by pleiotropic win-win mutations which directly benefit self (self-serving) and partner (partner-serving). Intuitively, partner-serving phenotype could be quantified as an individual’s benefit supply rate to partners. Here, we demonstrate the inadequacy of this thinking, and propose an alternative. 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 (self-serving), and increased hypoxanthine release rate per cell (partner-serving). However, increased release rate was due to increased cell size accompanied by increased lysine utilization per birth. Consequently, total hypoxanthine release rate per lysine utilization (defined as ‘exchange ratio’) remained unchanged. Indeed, this mutation did not increase the steady state growth rate of partner, and is thus solely self-serving during long-term growth. By extension, reduced benefit production rate by an individual may not imply cheating.

Keywords: mutualism benefit cost evolution partner-serving
Ronald Noë's insight:
The authors explain extensively why their system is NOT a biological market. Which is interesting for a change.
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Peña, Nöldeke & Puebla (2019). The evolution of egg trading in simultaneous hermaphrodites. bioRxiv, 460386

Peña, Nöldeke & Puebla (2019). The evolution of egg trading in simultaneous hermaphrodites. bioRxiv, 460386 | Biological Markets | Scoop.it

Abstract: Egg trading, whereby simultaneous hermaphrodites exchange each other’s eggs for fertilization, constitutes one of the few rigorously documented and most widely cited examples of direct reciprocity among unrelated individuals. Yet how egg trading may initially invade a population of non-trading simultaneous hermaphrodites is still unresolved. Here, we address this question with an analytical model that considers mate encounter rates and costs of egg production in a population that may include traders (who provide eggs for fertilization only if their partners also have eggs to reciprocate), providers (who provide eggs regardless of whether their partners have eggs to reciprocate), and withholders (“cheaters” who only mate in the male role and just use their eggs to elicit egg release from traders). Our results indicate that a combination of intermediate mate encounter rates, sufficiently high costs of egg production, and a sufficiently high probability that traders detect withholders (in which case eggs are not provided) is conducive to the evolution of egg trading. Under these conditions traders can invade—and resist invasion from—providers and withholders alike. The prediction that egg trading evolves only under these specific conditions is consistent with the rare occurrence of this mating system among simultaneous hermaphrodites.

Ronald Noë's insight:
A long time ago (1991) Friedman & Hammerstein pointed out that an explanation of the stability of egg trading in black hamlets should take partner choice into account, because it is in fact an egg market. This was a short paper in reaction to a model proposed by Fischer that was based on partner control only and described egg-trading as a 2-player game. I don't get the impression that this key insight of Friedman and Hammerstein gets the credit it deserves in the present paper in which 'partner choice' is hardly mentioned anyway.

References (both also cited in the paper):
Fischer, E. A. (1988). Simultaneous hermaphroditism, tit-for-tat, and the evolutionary stability of social systems. Ethology and Sociobiology, 9, 119-136.

Friedman, J. W. & Hammerstein, P. (1991). To trade, or not to trade; that is the question. In R. Selten (Ed.), Game equilibrium models I. Berlin: Springer.
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The Invisible Paw (Ep. 329 Rebroadcast)

The Invisible Paw (Ep. 329 Rebroadcast) | Biological Markets | Scoop.it
Humans, it has long been thought, are the only animal to engage in economic activity. But what if we've had it exactly backward?
Ronald Noë's insight:
I normally don't mention any items twice, but this is a re-broadcast of a podcast on Freakonomics radio, originally from April 5, 2018.

Here is my original comment:

Stephen Dubner interviews a number of economists and biologists (including myself) about the economic behaviour of non-human animals and biological markets in general.

This is a podcast of about 50 min, but you can also read the transcript (eventually while listening of course).
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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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