Re: Evolutionarily Stable Strategies (ESSs)

From: ben payne (
Date: Mon Oct 13 1997 - 13:40:58 BST

Firstly, I am not sure wehther you received my first e-mail
from last Tuesday, so would it be possible to have some
confirmation if you did so I can check that my e-mail is
now working. Thanks!

Last Tuesdays seminar was very helpful, in some ways, for
clarifying one or two things about ESS that I was not
confident about before. I felt I could not contribute much to
the discuission as i had not read much of the book, but it
gave me alot to think about.

my uncertainty of ESS was based on the fact that the
stability part of this concept was not as clear as it should
be. I was unsure that by looking at the literal meaning of
"stability', there was no confidence in my mind that these
strategies are infact stable in the long term. By explaining
the three different variables with which the short term
stability should be considered, it is now clearer, although I
must confess I am not totally sure of the details of the
three approaches that determine stability.

Considering the question of what it is that determines the
different tendancies within different species to survive, I
understand that it is the survival of the gene that is
perhaps the most important concept to drive evolution.
Looking at the vast ways in which the behaviours of different
species live and repropduce, it is surely the environment
that determines the strategies these creatures use to ensure
their greatest chance of survival of a species. But why
should these creatiures behave in such a way? how do they
know that their object in life is to pass on their genes as
successfully as they can? this is ofcourse not a literal
question, but is it simply copied behaviour from their own
parents or an inherent instinct that patterns their
behaviour? I am just thinking aloud here!

We talked about egg layers, and the ways in which birds will
lay the number of eggs that ensure they can bring up a
healthy offspring, but at the same time produce enough to
optimise the chance of passing on successful genes. Other egg
layers, it occured to me, such as turtles behave very
differently to the flying form of egg layers. This is what I
find interesting as I can see how the environment shapes the
way these different species behave. By laying a large number
of eggs on beaches, it gives their genes a greayter chance of
survival as there is a considerable risk of death soon after
they emerge from the sand. The underlying question concerned
with this difference in behaviours is how these turtles know
to do this as there is no parental guidance or behaviour to
learn from, and how has evolution enabled such animals to
pass on such vital strategies. I understand that this is all
the work of the gene and ESS, and it raises some interesting
considerations of ideas of instinct, and can also question
our understanding of animal 'psychology' and behaviour as far
learning is concerned.

I am not sure that this is all as clear as it should be, and
I would like to know if my approach is right. Am i asking
enough questions or giving a clear idea of my views? At the
moment I have just looked at the general ideas that we have
covered and written some of what i have thought so far. I
understand that for a better, more complete outline of the
ideas we have approached, I need to look at it more
thoroughly, but would like to know that what I have done so
far is a start!

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