Animal network phenomena: insights from triadic games

Mike Mesterton-Gibbons, Department of Mathematics, Florida State University

Games of animal conflict in networks rely heavily on computer simulation because analysis is difficult, the degree of difficulty increasing sharply with the size of the network. For this reason, virtually the entire analytical literature on evolutionary game theory has assumed either dyadic interaction or a high degree of symmetry, or both. Yet we cannot rely exclusively on computer simulation in the study of any complex system. So the study of triadic interactions has an important role to play, because triads are both the simplest groups in which asymmetric network phenomena can be studied and the groups beyond dyads in which analysis of population games is most likely to be tractable, especially when allowing for intrinsic variation. Here we demonstrate how such analyses can illuminate a variety of behavioral phenomena within networks, including coalition formation, eavesdropping and victory displays.