Resources are often scarce, and scarcity often leads to conflict. The form of conflict ranges from subtle supplants in which one animal departs at the other's approach to escalated fights in which participants are seriously wounded. Interestingly, conflicts in a wide range of species are often resolved without dangerous escalation. In 1973, the eminent geneticist John Maynard Smith and an eccentric retired engineer named George Price explained why sometimes selection favored restraint, and why sometimes it didn't. This model, called the Hawk-Dove game, illustrates the power of simple models and changed the way biologists viewed animal contests. The Hawk-Dove game provides a simple introduction to a key feature of social behavior—individual fitness typically depends on the behavior of others. This chapter examines the Hawk-Dove game and some of its many descendants. It first introduces the basic ideas of evolutionary game theory and applies them to the understanding of the evolution of animal contests. It then discusses the results of the Hawk-Dove game for retaliation, evolutionary stable strategies, continuous stable strategies, ownership, resource holding power, and sequential play.
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