PerspectiveBehavioral Ecology

The Economics of Animal Cooperation

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Science  13 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5601, pp. 2146-2147
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080051

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Summary

The Prisoner's Dilemma encapsulates the difficulty of cooperation when there is a temptation to cheat. Human partners can escape from this bind through repeated interaction and reciprocation. However, as Mesterton-Gibbons and Adams explain in their Perspective, attempts to replicate such cooperation experimentally using nonhuman subjects have not yielded definitive answers about the capacity for reciprocity among animal species. New work with captive blue jays in an experimental Prisoner's Dilemma setup that controls the strength of preference for an immediate versus a delayed reward reveals that these birds do indeed have the capacity for cooperation (Stephens et al.).