Using an online multiplayer video game to quantify natural selection on hunting behaviour

Écologie comportementale
10:10, jeudi 19 déc. 2019 (15 minutes)
Salle CD

Understanding how inter-individual variation in predator’s hunting behaviour is maintained is a key challenge for evolutionary ecology. Natural selection could be a mechanism contributing to this variation. We tackled this problem using an online multiplayer video game putting a single predator-player against four prey-players. We evaluated if prey behaviour and game environments could explain the expression of predator’s hunting behaviour. Then, we quantified selection gradients on hunting behaviour traits. We hypothesized that positive directional selection would act on average speed and space covered (active-pursuit strategy), and that disruptive selection would act on prey guarding (ambush strategy). We found that moderate to high proportions of variances in average speed and space covered by the predator were explained by prey behaviour. Space covered varied considerably across environments. Contrary to our expectations, we found negative directional selection on average speed, and strong stabilizing selection on space covered and prey guarding. Our results suggest that predators hunting in a virtual environment are subject to the same (or similar) mechanisms that contribute to variation in their behaviour in a natural context. This could open an existing avenue to test different theoretical hypotheses of selection on behaviour using video games.

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