Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 205–231

On the Evolution of Behavioral Heterogeneity in Individuals and Populations

  • Carl T. Bergstrom
  • Peter Godfrey-Smith

DOI: 10.1023/A:1006588918909

Cite this article as:
Bergstrom, C.T. & Godfrey-Smith, P. Biology & Philosophy (1998) 13: 205. doi:10.1023/A:1006588918909


A wide range of ecological and evolutionary models predict variety in phenotype or behavior when a population is at equilibrium. This heterogeneity can be realized in different ways. For example, it can be realized through a complex population of individuals exhibiting different simple behaviors, or through a simple population of individuals exhibiting complex, varying behaviors. In some theoretical frameworks these different realizations are treated as equivalent, but natural selection distinguishes between these two alternatives in subtle ways. By investigating an increasingly complex series of models, from a simple fluctuating selection model up to a finite population hawk/dove game, we explore the selective pressures which discriminate between pure strategists, mixed at the population level, and individual mixed strategists. Our analysis reveals some important limitations to the “ESS” framework often employed to investigate the evolution of complex behavior.

game theoryESSmixed strategypolymorphismvariation in behaviorfinite populations

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl T. Bergstrom
    • 1
  • Peter Godfrey-Smith
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA