How did the domestication of Fertile Crescent grain crops increase their yields?
Plant communities with traits that would maximize community performance can be invaded by plants that invest extra in acquiring resources at the expense of others, lowering the overall community performance, a so-called tragedy of the commons (TOC). By contrast, maximum community performance is usually the objective in agriculture. We first give an overview of the occurrence of TOCs in plants, and explore the extent to which past crop breeding has led to trait values that go against an unwanted TOC. We then show how linking evolutionary game theory (EGT) with mechanistic knowledge of the physiological processes that drive trait expression and the ecological aspects of biotic interactions in agro-ecosystems might contribute to increasing crop yields and resource-use efficiency.