Edited by Luc-Alain Giraldeau, Philipp Heeb and Michael Kosfeld
Experts from the natural and social sciences examine the coexistence of productive and exploitative behavior strategies observable in many species at many levels.
In the natural world, some agents (investors) employ strategies that provide resources, services, or information, while others (exploiters) gain advantages through these efforts. This behavior coexists and can be observed in many species and at many levels. For example, bacteria depend on the existence of biofilms to synthesize constituent proteins; cancerous cells employ angiogenesis to feed a tumor; and parents forgo vaccinating their children yet benefit from herd immunity. Two independent research traditions have developed to analyze this behavior—one couched in evolutionary theory championed by behavioral ecologists, the other in social science concepts advocated by economists. In this book experts from economics, evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, public health, and anthropology look for commonalities in understanding and approach.
The contributors consider parasitic strategies in ecological and economic terms; the governance of natural resources, with insights from “producer-scrounger models,” forest management, and game theory; human health, discussing therapeutic opportunities, public health economics, and the integration of perspectives; and behavioral, social, and institutional consequences of exploitation strategies.
Contributors Michal Arbilly, Zoltán Barta, Jan Börner, Sam P. Brown, Max Burton-Chellew, Juan Camilo Cardenas, Sasha R. X. Dall, Miguel dos Santos, Frédérique Dubois, Paul W. Ewald, Gigi Foster, Paul Frijters, Luc-Alain Giraldeau, Ben Greiner, Reem Hajjar, Philipp Heeb, Markus Herrmann, Tatsuya Kameda, Alex Kacelnik, Kiryl Khalmetski, Andrew J. King, Hanna Kokko, Michael Kosfeld, Wolfgang Leininger, Arnem Lotem, Kimberley J. Mathot, John M. McNamara, Friederike Mengel, Johan A. Oldekop, Daniel Pauly, Benjamin Roche, Devesh Rustagi, William J. Sutherland, Frédéric Thomas, Thomas J. Valone, Joël van der Weele, Björn Vollan, Claus Wedekind, Bruce Winterhalder
Photographie: N. Miguletz
Top of page
“Evolutionary biologists and economists have a shared interest in understanding why some individuals in a group behave as ‘free riders’, benefiting from the efforts of others. If free riding is a good strategy, what limits its spread in a population? This edited book explores both the underlying science and its practical applications, for example in vaccination policy. It is a very valuable up-to-date summary of knowledge in an important area of interdisciplinary science.”
Emeritus Professor of Zoology, University of Oxford
“Cheats, exploiters, and scroungers have forever been the bane of evolutionary models of cooperation and altruism. This remarkable volume, which brings together leading biologists and economists, sheds new light on understanding a world where investors and exploiters can be found in every nook and cranny of social dynamics.”
Professor of Biology, University of Louisville; coauthor of How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution
“Economists hesitate to learn from biologists and vice versa. Investors and Exploiters in Ecology and Economics shows that this can be overcome. This fascinating book sheds new light on cooperation, exploitation, and conflict. Natural resource exploitation and free riding in health are cases in point covered in the volume, yet by extrapolation the insights may even hint toward fundamental forces behind phenomena like populism, protectionism, and inequality.”
Professor for Economic and Technical Change, Director, Center for Development Research, Bonn University, Germany; coeditor of Marginality: Addressing the Nexus of Poverty, Exclusion and EcologyTop of page
Luc-Alain Giraldeau, Faculty of Science, Université du Québec à Montréal, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3P8, Canada
Philipp Heeb, Université Paul Sabatier, Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique (EDB), UMR 5174 CNRS-UPS, Toulouse Cedex 4, France
Alex Kacelnik, Behavioural Ecology, Department of Zoology, Oxford University; Oxford OX1 3PS, U.K.
Michael Kosfeld, Organization and Management, Goethe University Frankfurt, Grüneburgplatz 1, 60323 Frankfurt, Germany
Julia Lupp, Ernst Strüngmann Forum, Ruth-Moufang-Str.1, 60438 Frankfurt, Germany
Frédéric Thomas, MIVEGEC - Centre IRD de Montpellier, 911 Avenue Agropolis, BP 64501, 34394 Montpellier cedex 5, France
Top of page
When goal-driven agents, such as humans, other organisms, or institutions, seek resources (including services or information) in the presence of others, they can invest effort directly to obtain the resource or indirectly, by exploiting others’ producing activity. Such situations of “social parasitism” create social dilemmas where some individuals pay production costs whilst others can obtain some benefits through some form of free-riding. In foraging ecology such strategies have been studied, for example, using the game-theoretical model known as “producers and scroungers,” but many other models that concern social and economic interactions also address these problems.
Examples of real-life systems where the problem is prevalent include:
We aim to promote integration between studies in these different contexts, extracting lessons that could inform action where human interests are involved (e.g., in conservation, public health, market stability, etc.). This Forum will discuss case studies, compare alternative modeling approaches and explore the potential for regulation environments.
Top of page