Publications / SAND Report

Computational models of intergroup competition and warfare

Abbott, Robert G.

This document reports on the research of Kenneth Letendre, the recipient of a Sandia Graduate Research Fellowship at the University of New Mexico. Warfare is an extreme form of intergroup competition in which individuals make extreme sacrifices for the benefit of their nation or other group to which they belong. Among animals, limited, non-lethal competition is the norm. It is not fully understood what factors lead to warfare. We studied the global variation in the frequency of civil conflict among countries of the world, and its positive association with variation in the intensity of infectious disease. We demonstrated that the burden of human infectious disease importantly predicts the frequency of civil conflict and tested a causal model for this association based on the parasite-stress theory of sociality. We also investigated the organization of social foraging by colonies of harvester ants in the genus Pogonomyrmex, using both field studies and computer models.