Month: February 2019

Spatial Structure Can Decrease Symbiotic Cooperation

Mutualisms occur when at least two species provide a net fitness benefit to each other. These types of interactions are ubiquitous in nature, with more being discovered regularly. Mutualisms are vital to humankind: Pollinators and soil microbes are critical in agriculture, bacterial microbiomes regulate our health, and domesticated animals provide us with food and companionship. Many hypotheses exist on how mutualisms evolve; however, they are difficult to evaluate without bias, due to the fragile and idiosyncratic systems most often investigated. Instead, we have created an artificial life simulation, Symbulation, which we use to examine mutualism evolution based on (1) the probability of vertical transmission (symbiont being passed to offspring) and (2) the spatial structure of the environment. We found that spatial structure can lead to less mutualism at intermediate vertical transmission rates. We provide evidence that this effect is due to the ability of quasi species to purge parasites, reducing the diversity of available symbionts. Our simulation is easily extended to test many additional hypotheses about the evolution of mutualism and serves as a general model to quantitatively compare how different environments affect the evolution of mutualism.


Spatial Structure Can Decrease Symbiotic Cooperation
Anya E. Vostinar and Charles Ofria

Artificial Life


Controlling systemic risk – network structures that minimize it and node properties to calculate it

Evaluation of systemic risk in networks of financial institutions in general requires information of inter-institution financial exposures. In the framework of Debt Rank algorithm, we introduce an approximate method of systemic risk evaluation which requires only node properties, such as total assets and liabilities, as inputs. We demonstrate that this approximation captures a large portion of systemic risk measured by Debt Rank. Furthermore, using Monte Carlo simulations, we investigate network structures that can amplify systemic risk. Indeed, while no topology in general sense is a priori more stable if the market is liquid, a larger complexity is detrimental for the overall stability. Here we find that the measure of scalar assortativity correlates well with level of systemic risk. In particular, network structures with high systemic risk are scalar assortative, meaning that risky banks are mostly exposed to other risky banks. Network structures with low systemic risk are scalar disassortative, with interactions of risky banks with stable banks.


Controlling systemic risk – network structures that minimize it and node properties to calculate it
Sebastian M. Krause, Hrvoje Štefančić, Vinko Zlatić, Guido Caldarelli


Large teams develop and small teams disrupt science and technology

One of the most universal trends in science and technology today is the growth of large teams in all areas, as solitary researchers and small teams diminish in prevalence1,2,3. Increases in team size have been attributed to the specialization of scientific activities3, improvements in communication technology4,5, or the complexity of modern problems that require interdisciplinary solutions6,7,8. This shift in team size raises the question of whether and how the character of the science and technology produced by large teams differs from that of small teams. Here we analyse more than 65 million papers, patents and software products that span the period 1954–2014, and demonstrate that across this period smaller teams have tended to disrupt science and technology with new ideas and opportunities, whereas larger teams have tended to develop existing ones. Work from larger teams builds on more-recent and popular developments, and attention to their work comes immediately. By contrast, contributions by smaller teams search more deeply into the past, are viewed as disruptive to science and technology and succeed further into the future—if at all. Observed differences between small and large teams are magnified for higher-impact work, with small teams known for disruptive work and large teams for developing work. Differences in topic and research design account for a small part of the relationship between team size and disruption; most of the effect occurs at the level of the individual, as people move between smaller and larger teams. These results demonstrate that both small and large teams are essential to a flourishing ecology of science and technology, and suggest that, to achieve this, science policies should aim to support a diversity of team sizes.


Large teams develop and small teams disrupt science and technology
Lingfei Wu, Dashun Wang & James A. Evans 
Nature (2019)


A collaborative multiyear, multimodel assessment of seasonal influenza forecasting in the United States

Accurate prediction of the size and timing of infectious disease outbreaks could help public health officials in planning an appropriate response. This paper compares approaches developed by five different research groups to forecast seasonal influenza outbreaks in real time in the United States. Many of the models show more accurate forecasts than a historical baseline. A major impediment to predictive ability was the real-time accuracy of available data. The field of infectious disease forecasting is in its infancy and we expect that innovation will spur improvements in forecasting in the coming years.


A collaborative multiyear, multimodel assessment of seasonal influenza forecasting in the United States
Nicholas G. Reich, Logan C. Brooks, Spencer J. Fox, Sasikiran Kandula, Craig J. McGowan, Evan Moore, Dave Osthus, Evan L. Ray, Abhinav Tushar, Teresa K. Yamana, Matthew Biggerstaff, Michael A. Johansson, Roni Rosenfeld, and Jeffrey Shaman
PNAS published ahead of print January 15, 2019