Date : 4/03/2010
Ecologie et Evolution CNRS-UPMC-UMR 7625
UPMC, Bat A, 7e etage 7 quai St Bernard 75005 Paris
Director : Minus van Baalen
phone : +33 144272694
Subjects / Tools-Methodologies
1 : Evolution/Mathematics
2 : Cooperation/Game theory
3 : Markets/microeconomics
Summary of lab's interests
Our lab is specialized in evolutionary ecology with a special emphasis on animal behaviour. The lab has three teams in Jussieu (Paris 6) and one team at the Ecole Normale SupÈrieure. In Jussieu, one team is working mostly on the effects of global changes on adaptive processes with experimental works mostly on lizard. Another team is working on the evolution of insect societies (mostly ants). And a third, in which the PhD will take place, is interested in the evolution of interactions from parasitism to mutualism, both within and across species. The team located in the Ecole Normale Supérieure is interested in the mathematics of evolution.
The supervisor of this PhD, Jean-Baptiste André, is trained as a theoretician in evolutionary biology. His work is focused on social evolution theory. He is interested in a wide array of matters all related to the evolution of social behaviour, mostly in humans: the evolution of reciprocal cooperation, the evolution of signalling in cooperative settings, the evolution of communication and culture, and the evolution of fairness.
Summary of project
Context - Cooperation, reciprocity and partner choice:
The existence of cooperation is a paradox with regard to natural selection. The principle of reciprocity has been proposed, and intensely modelled, as a possible solution. The effects of reciprocity are, however, relatively disappointing. Cooperation is certainly possible with reciprocity, but it is neither necessary nor likely. In order to understand better the evolution of cooperation it is necessary to introduce another mechanism: partner choice.
Models of reciprocity partly fail because they assume that individuals cannot choose their partners. When partner choice is considered, social life then looks like a ìmarketî in which individuals are in competition to be recruited in cooperative ventures. ìBiological marketsî have been put forward in the nineties by Ronald NoÎ and Peter Hammerstein in two seminal papers. But they have seldom been formally studied since then, mostly because it requires conceptual tools coming from economics, and not only from biology.
PhD subject - Modelling the evolution of cooperation in a biological market:
A biological market model has been developed in our lab (by J.B. André and N. Baumard), leading to a manuscript currently under review. This preliminary work shows the potential fruitfulness of the approach and its feasibility. But it is the first step of a wide field of study that requires the effort of a PhD student. The student will base his own work on the model already done, improving it with the aim to build a general theoretical framework for market phenomena in biology. Various types of social interactions will be considered (collective actions, quantitative interactions, asymmetric interactions, etc.). The emergence of inequalities will also be under scrutiny, considering the existence of rare social roles that may benefit from their rarity. The approaches undertaken will be mostly mathematical (game theory, adaptive dynamics, micro-economic theory). They will allow the PhD student to acquire an expertise in evolutionary game theory as well as solid knowledge in micro-economics.
The work will take place in the Ecologie-Evolution lab, where scholars are evolutionary biologists specialised in animal behaviour. The PhD supervisor (JB AndrÈ) is a specialist in evolutionary game theory and its application to human behaviour. The PhD will also take place in close collaboration with Nicolas Baumard from Oxford, and with Ronald NoÎ and Bernhard Voekl from the University of Strasbourg. N. Baumard is an evolutionary psychologist interested in the evolution of fairness. R. NoÎ is a behavioural ecologist who has developed the very idea of biological markets, and B. Voekl is a theoretician working on social networks in primates. Our lab is part of an ANR proposal coordinated by R. NoÎ. If this proposal is funded, B. Voekl and N. Baumard will come to the Ecologie-Evolution lab as post-docs. This will constitute an excellent environment for a PhD student interested in social evolution theory.