"Non-Equilibrial Dynamics in Under-Saturated Communities"
The concept of the evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) has been fundamental to the development of evolutionary game theory. It represents an equilibrial evolutionary state in which no rare invader can grow in population size. With additional work, the ESS concept has been formalized and united with other stability concepts such as convergent stabil- ity, neighborhood invasion stability, and mutual invisibility. Other work on evolutionary models, however, shows the possibility of unstable and/or non-equilibrial dynamics such as limit cycles and evolutionary suicide. Such “pathologies” remain outside of a well-defined context, especially the currently defined stability concepts of evolutionary games. Ripa et al. (2009) offer a possible reconciliation between work on non-equilibrial dynamics and the ESS concept. They noticed that the systems they analyzed show non-equilibrial dynam- ics when under-saturated and “far” from the ESS and that getting “closer” to the ESS through the addition of more species stabilized their systems. To that end, we analyzed three models of evolution, two predator-prey models and one competition model of evolu- tionary suicide, to see how the degree of saturation affects the stability of the system. In the predator-prey models, stability is linked to degree of saturation. Specifically, a fully saturated community will only show stable dynamics, and unstable dynamics occur only when the community is under-saturated. With the competition model, we demonstrate it to be permanently under-saturated, likely showing such extreme dynamics for this rea- son. Though not a general proof, our analysis of the models provide evidence of the link between community saturation and evolutionary dynamics. Our results offer a possible placement of these unstable and non-equilibrial dynamics into a wider framework. In addi- tion, the results concur with previous results showing greater evolutionary response to less biodiversity and clarifies the effect of extrinsic vs. intrinsic non-equilibrial evolutionary dynamics on a community.