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More can be better: An analysis of single-mutant fixation probability functions under 2x2 games

Pires, D. & Broom, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1698-5495 (2022). More can be better: An analysis of single-mutant fixation probability functions under 2x2 games. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 478(2267), article number 20220577. doi: 10.1098/rspa.2022.0577


Evolutionary game theory has proved to be a powerful tool to probe the self-organisation of collective behaviour by considering frequency-dependent fitness in evolutionary processes. It has shown that the stability of a strategy depends not only on the payoffs received after each encounter but also on the population’s size. Here, we study 2 × 2 games in well-mixed finite populations by analysing the fixation probabilities of single mutants as functions of population size. We proved that 9 out of the 24 possible games always lead to monotonically decreasing functions, similarly to fixed fitness scenarios. However, fixation functions showed increasing regions under 12 distinct anti-coordination, coordination, and dominance games. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this establishes that single-mutant strategies often benefit from being in larger populations. Fixation functions that increase from a global minimum to a positive asymptotic value are pervasive but may have been easily concealed by the weak selection limit. We obtained sufficient conditions to observe fixation increasing for small populations and three distinct ways this can occur. Finally, we describe fixation functions with increasing regions bounded by two extremes under intermediate population sizes. We associate their occurrence with transitions from having one global extreme to other shapes.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Publisher Keywords: evolutionary game theory, stochastic processes, finite population, fixation probability
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Mathematics
SWORD Depositor:
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