Epidemic spreading and cooperation dynamics on homogeneous small-world networks
We introduce a class of small-world networks—homogeneous small-worlds—which, in contrast with the well-known Watts-Strogatz small-worlds, exhibit a homogeneous connectivity distribution, in the sense that all nodes have the same number of connections. This feature allows the investigation of pure small-world effects, detached from any associated heterogeneity. Furthermore, we use at profit the remarkable similarity between the properties of homogeneous small worlds and the heterogeneous small-worlds of Watts-Strogatz to assess the separate roles of heterogeneity and small-world effects. We investigate the dependence on these two mechanisms of the threshold for epidemic outbreaks and also of the coevolution of cooperators and defectors under natural selection. With respect to the well-studied regular homogeneous limits, we find a subtle interplay between these mechanisms. While they both contribute to reduce the threshold for an epidemic outburst, they exhibit opposite behavior in the evolution of cooperation, such that the overall results mask the true nature of their individual contribution to this process.