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Boom and Bust: Environmental Variability Favors the Emergence of Communication

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5 Author(s)

Environmental variability has been proposed as an important mechanism in behavioral psychology, in ecology and evolution, and in cultural anthropology. Here we demonstrate its importance in simulational studies as well. In earlier work we have shown the emergence of communication in a spatialized environment of wandering food sources and predators, using a variety of mechanisms for strategy change: imitation (Grim, Kokalis, Tafti & Kilb 2000), localized genetic algorithm (Grim, Kokalis, Tafti & Kilb 2001), and partial training of neural nets on the behavior of successful neighbors (Grim, St. Denis & Kokalis 2002). Here we focus on environmental variability, comparing results for all of these mechanisms in a range of different environments: (a) environments with constant resources, (b) environments with random resources around the same mean, and (c) sine-wave variable environments with cycles of ‘boom and bust’. Communication, it turns out, is strongly favored by environmental variability on the pattern of ‘boom and bust’.