Mesoscopic interactions and species coexistence in evolutionary game dynamics of cyclic competitions

Hongyan Cheng, Nan Yao, Zi Gang Huang, Junpyo Park, Do Younghae, Ying-Cheng Lai

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74 Scopus citations


Evolutionary dynamical models for cyclic competitions of three species (e.g., rock, paper, and scissors, or RPS) provide a paradigm, at the microscopic level of individual interactions, to address many issues in coexistence and biodiversity. Real ecosystems often involve competitions among more than three species. By extending the RPS game model to five (rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock, or RPSLS) mobile species, we uncover a fundamental type of mesoscopic interactions among subgroups of species. In particular, competitions at the microscopic level lead to the emergence of various local groups in different regions of the space, each involving three species. It is the interactions among the groups that fundamentally determine how many species can coexist. In fact, as the mobility is increased from zero, two transitions can occur: one from a five- to a three-species coexistence state and another from the latter to a uniform, single-species state. We develop a mean-field theory to show that, in order to understand the first transition, group interactions at the mesoscopic scale must be taken into account. Our findings suggest, more broadly, the importance of mesoscopic interactions in coexistence of great many species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7486
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Dec 15 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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