séminaire du vendredi

"A computational model of predator-prey relations, protean escape behavior and sexual reproduction: the Red Tooth Hypothesis" - Robert M. French, LEAD-CNRS, Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France, vendredi 6 novembre 2009, à 11h, bât. Gabrie, amphi Monge


This paper presents an extension of the Red Queen Hypothesis (hereafter, RQH) that we call the Red Tooth Hypothesis (RTH). This hypothesis suggests that predator-prey relations may play a role in the maintenance of sexual reproduction in many higher animals. RTH is based on an interaction between learning on the part of predators and evolution on the part of prey. We present a simple predator-prey computer simulation that illustrates the effects of this interaction. This simulation suggests that the optimal escape strategy from the prey’s standpoint would be to have a small number of highly reflexive, largely innate (and, therefore, very fast) escape patterns, but that would also be unlearnable by the predator. One way to achieve this would be for each individual in the prey population to have a small set of hard-wired escape patterns, but which were different for each individual. We argue that polymorphic escape patterns at the population level could be produced via sexual reproduction at little or no evolutionary cost and would be as, or potentially more, efficient than individual-level protean (i.e., random) escape behavior. We further argue that, especially under high predation pressure, sexual recombination would be a more rapid, and therefore more effective, means of producing highly variable escape behaviors at the population level than asexual reproduction.

Robert M. French
Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France
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