Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
August-Thienemann Str 2
Abstracts (first author)
Retaliatory parasites make an offer a host should not refuse
Mafia like behavior occurs not only in humans, but is also observed in animals. For example, experimental evidence suggests that avian hosts tend to accept a certain degree of parasitism in order to avoid retaliating punishment from the brood parasite. Herein, we model the interaction between hosts and parasites to understand under which conditions it will be beneficial for the host to accept parasitism. In our model, the host's behavior is plastic, and thus, its response depends on the previous interactions with the parasite. We find that such learned behavior in turn is crucial for the evolution of retaliating parasites. The abundance of this kind of mafia behavior oscillates in time and does not settle to an equilibrium. Our results suggest that retaliation is a mechanism for the parasite to evade specialization and to induce acceptance by the host.