Evolutionary dynamics of group formation
Group formation is a quite ubiquitous phenomenon across different animal species, whose individuals cluster together forming communities of diverse size. Previous investigations suggest that, in general, this phenomenon might have similar underlying reasons across the interested species, despite genetic and behavioral differences. For instance improving the individual safety (e.g. from predators), and increasing the probability to get food resources. Remarkably, the group size might strongly vary from species to species, e.g. shoals of fishes and herds of lions, and sometimes even within the same species, e.g. tribes and families in human societies. Here we build on previous theories stating that the dynamics of group formation may have evolutionary roots, and we explore this fascinating hypothesis from a purely theoretical perspective, with a model using the framework of Evolutionary Game Theory. In our model we hypothesize that homogeneity constitutes a fundamental ingredient in these dynamics. Accordingly, we study a population that tries to form homogeneous groups, i.e. composed of similar agents. The formation of a group can be interpreted as a strategy. Notably, agents can form a group (receiving a ‘group payoff’), or can act individually (receiving an ‘individual payoff’). The phase diagram of the modeled population shows a sharp transition between the ‘group phase’ and the ‘individual phase’, characterized by a critical ‘individual payoff’. Our results then support the hypothesis that the phenomenon of group formation has evolutionary roots.