Behavioral Strategy Chases Promote the Evolution of Prey Intelligence Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Predator-prey coevolution is commonly thought to result in reciprocal arms races that produce increasingly extreme and complex traits. However, such directional change is not inevitable. Here, we provide evidence for a previously undemonstrated dynamic that we call "strategy chases," wherein populations explore strategies with similar levels of complexity, but differing behaviorally. Indeed, in populations of evolving digital organisms, as prey evolved more effective predator-avoidance strategies, they explored a wider range of behavioral strategies in addition to exhibiting increased levels of behavioral complexity. Furthermore, coevolved prey became more adept in foraging, evidently through coopting components of explored sense-and-flee avoidance strategies into sense-and-retrieve foraging strategies. Specifically, we demonstrate that coevolution induced non-escalating exploration of behavioral space, corresponding with significant evolutionary advancements, including increasingly intelligent behavioral strategies.

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