Investors and Exploiters in Ecology and Economics

From Strüngmann Forum Reports

Investors and Exploiters in Ecology and Economics

Principles and Applications

Edited by Luc-Alain Giraldeau, Philipp Heeb and Michael Kosfeld

Experts from the natural and social sciences examine the coexistence of productive and exploitative behavior strategies observable in many species at many levels.





Experts from the natural and social sciences examine the coexistence of productive and exploitative behavior strategies observable in many species at many levels.

In the natural world, some agents (investors) employ strategies that provide resources, services, or information, while others (exploiters) gain advantages through these efforts. This behavior coexists and can be observed in many species and at many levels. For example, bacteria depend on the existence of biofilms to synthesize constituent proteins; cancerous cells employ angiogenesis to feed a tumor; and parents forgo vaccinating their children yet benefit from herd immunity. Two independent research traditions have developed to analyze this behavior—one couched in evolutionary theory championed by behavioral ecologists, the other in social science concepts advocated by economists. In this book experts from economics, evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, public health, and anthropology look for commonalities in understanding and approach.

The contributors consider parasitic strategies in ecological and economic terms; the governance of natural resources, with insights from “producer-scrounger models,” forest management, and game theory; human health, discussing therapeutic opportunities, public health economics, and the integration of perspectives; and behavioral, social, and institutional consequences of exploitation strategies.

ContributorsMichal Arbilly, Zoltán Barta, Jan Börner, Sam P. Brown, Max Burton-Chellew, Juan Camilo Cardenas, Sasha R. X. Dall, Miguel dos Santos, Frédérique Dubois, Paul W. Ewald, Gigi Foster, Paul Frijters, Luc-Alain Giraldeau, Ben Greiner, Reem Hajjar, Philipp Heeb, Markus Herrmann, Tatsuya Kameda, Alex Kacelnik, Kiryl Khalmetski, Andrew J. King, Hanna Kokko, Michael Kosfeld, Wolfgang Leininger, Arnem Lotem, Kimberley J. Mathot, John M. McNamara, Friederike Mengel, Johan A. Oldekop, Daniel Pauly, Benjamin Roche, Devesh Rustagi, William J. Sutherland, Frédéric Thomas, Thomas J. Valone, Joël van der Weele, Björn Vollan, Claus Wedekind, Bruce Winterhalder


$50.00 X ISBN: 9780262036122 264 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 10 color illus., 10 b&w illus., 10 halftones


Luc-Alain Giraldeau

Luc-Alain Giraldeau is Professor of Behavioral Ecology and Dean of the Faculty of Science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Philipp Heeb

Philipp Heeb is Director of Research at the Centre national de la Recherche scientifiques (CNRS) in Evolutionary Ecology in the Laboratory for Evolution and Biological Diversity.

Michael Kosfeld

Michael Kosfeld is Professor of Business Administration at Goethe University Frankfurt, where he is also Director of the Center for Leadership and Behavior in Organizations (CLBO) and the Frankfurt Laboratory for Experimental Economic Research.


  • Evolutionary biologists and economists have a shared interest in understanding why some individuals in a group behave as 'free riders', benefiting from the efforts of others. If free riding is a good strategy, what limits its spread in a population? This edited book explores both the underlying science and its practical applications, for example in vaccination policy. It is a very valuable up-to-date summary of knowledge in an important area of interdisciplinary science.

    John Krebs

    Emeritus Professor of Zoology, University of Oxford

  • Cheats, exploiters, and scroungers have forever been the bane of evolutionary models of cooperation and altruism. This remarkable volume, which brings together leading biologists and economists, sheds new light on understanding a world where investors and exploiters can be found in every nook and cranny of social dynamics.

    Lee Alan Dugatkin

    Professor of Biology, University of Louisville; coauthor of How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution

  • Economists hesitate to learn from biologists and vice versa. Investors and Exploiters in Ecology and Economics shows that this can be overcome. This fascinating book sheds new light on cooperation, exploitation, and conflict. Natural resource exploitation and free riding in health are cases in point covered in the volume, yet by extrapolation the insights may even hint toward fundamental forces behind phenomena like populism, protectionism, and inequality.

    Joachim von Braun

    Professor for Economic and Technical Change, Director, Center for Development Research, Bonn University, Germany; coeditor of Marginality: Addressing the Nexus of Poverty, Exclusion and Ecology