Scientific community and society

  • Letter |

    Cooperation in evolutionary games can be stabilized through punishment of non-cooperators, at a cost to those who do the punishing. Punishment can take different forms, in particular peer-punishment, in which individuals punish free-riders after the event, and pool-punishment, in which a fund for sanctioning is set up beforehand. These authors show that pool-punishment is superior to peer-punishment in dealing with second-order free-riders, who cooperate in the main game but refuse to contribute to punishment.

    • Karl Sigmund
    • , Hannelore De Silva
    •  & Christoph Hauert
  • Letter |

    Emissions of African dust increased sharply in the early 1970s, but the human contribution to land degradation and dust mobilization remains poorly understood. Now, a 3,200-year record of dust deposition off northwest Africa has been constructed. On the basis of this dust record and a proxy record for West African precipitation, it is suggested that human-induced dust emissions from the Sahel region have contributed to the atmospheric dust load for more than 200 years.

    • Stefan Mulitza
    • , David Heslop
    •  & Michael Schulz
  • Letter |

    Removing the protected status from poorly performing conservation areas, selling the land and using the money better elsewhere is controversial, but has a simplistic appeal. Here, it is shown that such degazetting can reap significant conservation benefits, even for the well-designed Australian network of protected areas, and even when there is a significant economic cost to transferring protected status to a new area.

    • Richard A. Fuller
    • , Eve McDonald-Madden
    •  & Hugh P. Possingham
  • Letter |

    Network theory has become pervasive in all sectors of biology, from biochemical signalling to human societies, but identification of relevant functional communities has been impaired by many nodes belonging to several overlapping groups at once, and by hierarchical structures. These authors offer a radically different viewpoint, focusing on links rather than nodes, which allows them to demonstrate that overlapping communities and network hierarchies are two faces of the same issue.

    • Yong-Yeol Ahn
    • , James P. Bagrow
    •  & Sune Lehmann
  • Letter |

    Mentors influence the future success of their protégés, but to what extent do those protégés emulate their mentors? Here, one aspect of mentor emulation is studied, namely fecundity — the number of protégés a mentor trains. Analysis of data from the Mathematics Genealogy Project shows that although mentorship fecundity correlates with success, those mentors who maintain a small fecundity go on to train protégés with a larger fecundity. Moreover, the mentor's career stage influences the eventual fecundity of their protégés.

    • R. Dean Malmgren
    • , Julio M. Ottino
    •  & Luís A. Nunes Amaral
  • Review Article |

    • T. D. Ladd
    • , F. Jelezko
    •  & J. L. O’Brien
  • Letter |

    Social science hypotheses suggest that humans prefer more equality in outcome distributions because the knowledge of inequality reduces the reward experience. Here, functional MRI was used to test directly for inequality-averse social preferences in the brain during monetary transfers between pairs of participants and an experimenter. The results indicate that the brain's reward circuitry is sensitive to distribution inequality and is actively modulated relative to context.

    • Elizabeth Tricomi
    • , Antonio Rangel
    •  & John P. O’Doherty
  • Letter |

    Peptide hormones such as oxytocin and vasopressin influence social behaviour in several mammalian species. Here it is shown that a population of interneurons in the rat olfactory bulb releases vasopressin, and that vasopressin signalling is required in the olfactory system for proper social recognition in rats. Although vasopressin may not work in exactly the same way in humans, social recognition mediated by experience-dependent vasopressin release may be common.

    • Vicky A. Tobin
    • , Hirofumi Hashimoto
    •  & Mike Ludwig