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The Population Ecology of Despotism


Since despotism is a common evolutionary development in human history, we seek to understand the conditions under which it can originate, persist, and affect population trajectories. We describe a general system of population ecology equations representing the Ideal Free and Despotic Distributions for one and two habitats, one of which contains a despotic class that controls the distribution of resources. Using analytical and numerical solutions we derive the optimal concession strategy by despots with and without subordinate migration to an alternative habitat. We show that low concessions exponentially increase the time it takes for the despotic habitat to fill, and we discuss the trade-offs despots and subordinates confront at various levels of exploitation. Contrary to previous hypotheses, higher levels of despotism do not necessarily cause faster migration to alternative habitats. We further show how, during colonization, divergent population trajectories may arise if despotic systems experience Allee-type economies of scale.

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