By Ryan Hagenson

Is it possible to model the distributed dominance hierarchy of solitary species via a modified Byzantine fault problem? Traditionally used in distributed computing where the network consists of some unreliable actors, meanwhile a concerted strategy must be agreed upon, the Byzantine fault problem allows for erroneous communication of some global consensus under sparse pairwise communication. Under the assumption that solitary species individuals have some internal understanding of their own place in a dominance hierarchy (e.g., they know how aggressive they are compared to others), could we use the framework presented by the Byzantine fault problem to find a consensus of the hierarchy itself? In the traditional model, the Byzantine general must agree upon whether to attack a city or not -- under the solitary ecological dominance consensus this binary attack choice could be replaced with another binary choice such as entering another individual's range or not.

The genesis of this idea was in attempting to find some manner to determine the dominance hierarchy of the elusive, solitary Aye-aye of Madagascar. We can slice tracking and nesting data in a variety of binary manners, but the lack of clear contests between individuals led to a failure to construct a ecological dominance hierarchy by known methods.


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Ryan Hagenson



Published: 5 Sep, 2019

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