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Artificial Life

Winter 2002, Vol. 8, No. 1, Pages 5-24
(doi: 10.1162/106454602753694747)
© 2002 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mutualism Promotes Diversity and Stability in a Simple Artificial Ecosystem
Article PDF (3.64 MB)

This work investigates the effect of ecological interactions between organisms on the evolutionary dynamics of a community. A spatially explicit, individual-based model is presented, in which organisms compete for space and resources. We investigated how introducing the potential for mutualistic relationships (where the presence of one type of organism stimulates the growth of another type, and vice versa) affected the evolutionary dynamics of the system. Without this potential, one or a small number of individual types of organisms dominated the simulated community from the onset. When mutualistic relationships were allowed, many persisting types arose, with new types appearing continually. Furthermore, we investigated how the stability of the community differed when mutualistic relationships were allowed and disallowed. Our results suggest that the existence of mutualistic relationships improved community stability.