Volume 38 - Article 8 | Pages 197–226  

Evolution of fixed demographic heterogeneity from a game of stable coexistence

By Stefano Giaimo, Xiang-Yi Li, Arne Traulsen, Annette Baudisch


Background: Demographic heterogeneity refers to the observation that – within the same population – trajectories of survival and reproduction differ substantially between individuals. These differences have been found in both natural and captive populations. Models in ecology and evolution that incorporate demographic heterogeneity can improve both our understanding of the evolution of mortality curves and our population management abilities. Current explanations of the origin of demographic heterogeneity mostly revolve around interindividual differences that are either present at birth (fixed heterogeneity) or the result of stochasticity in life history realization (dynamic heterogeneity). Largely neglected remains the possibility that a form of fixed heterogeneity may evolve from interactions between behaviorally distinct individuals through their lifespan.

Objective: We suggest one possible way in which heterogeneity in vital rates may evolve. Our approach assumes game theoretic interactions in the population.

Methods: We combine population matrix models and game theory. We study a stable coexistence game between two types that are initially demographically homogeneous and analyze the effect of mutations that influence the trajectories of survival and reproduction.

Results: The rise and fixation of mutations can make the population demographically heterogeneous, while the game can preserve the coexistence of different types in the population.

Conclusions: Frequency-dependent selection can help to explain the evolution of demographic heterogeneity.

Contribution: Frequency-dependent selection can maintain already existing demographic heterogeneity in a population without overlapping generations. Here, we show that this form of selection can also be involved in the origin of a form of fixed heterogeneity.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

How lifespan and life years lost equate to unity
Volume 50 - Article 24

Born once, die once: Life table relationships for fertility
Volume 44 - Article 2

The pace of aging: Intrinsic time scales in demography
Volume 30 - Article 57

How life expectancy varies with perturbations in age-specific mortality
Volume 27 - Article 13

Senescence vs. sustenance: Evolutionary-demographic models of aging
Volume 23 - Article 23

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Ageing and diversity: Inequalities in longevity and health in low-mortality countries
Volume 50 - Article 12    | Keywords: aging, health, lifespan inequality, longevity, old-age threshold, regional differences, socioeconomic status

Frailty at death: An examination of multiple causes of death in four low mortality countries in 2017
Volume 49 - Article 2    | Keywords: aging, causes of mortality, mortality, multiple causes of death

World population aging as a function of period demographic conditions
Volume 48 - Article 13    | Keywords: aging, demographic transition, population

Migrating to a new country in late life: A review of the literature on international retirement migration
Volume 48 - Article 9    | Keywords: aging, internal migration, retirement, transnationalism

Coping with ageing: An historical longitudinal study of internal return migrations later in life in the Netherlands
Volume 46 - Article 27    | Keywords: aging, event history analysis, life course, migrations, sequence analysis, trajectories