Scarcity may promote cooperation in populations of simple agents
In the study of the evolution of cooperation, resource limitations are usually assumed just to provide a finite population size. Recently, however, it has been pointed out that resource limitation may also generate dynamical payoffs able to modify the original structure of the games. Here we study analytically a phase transition from a homogeneous population of defectors when resources are abundant to the survival of unconditional cooperators when resources reduce below a threshold. To this end, we introduce a model of simple agents, with no memory or ability of recognition, interacting in well-mixed populations. The result might shed light on the role played by resource constraints on the origin of multicellularity.