Evol Ecol Res 11: 305-323 (2009)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Niche co-evolution in consumer–resource communities

Jörgen Ripa1, Lena Storlind1, Per Lundberg1 and Joel S. Brown2

1Department of Theoretical Ecology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden and  2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Correspondence: J. Ripa, Department of Theoretical Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building, S-223 62 Lund, Sweden.
e-mail: jorgen.ripa@teorekol.lu.se


Problem: Niche co-evolution deals simultaneously with the number and the character of species within a community. How can a community of predators and prey adaptively radiate to fill available niches? How many niches are there? And, can adaptive speciation at evolutionary branching points successfully fill the niches of the ESS?

Model features: We use a predator–prey model with one fitness-generating function, a G-function, for the prey and a separate one for the predators. Species diversity can emerge from within and between the two G-functions. Two niche-breadth parameters (prey niche breadth and predator niche breadth) determine the number of prey and predator species at the ESS.

Mathematical method: To identify the ESS community for a given pair of niche parameters, we use a numerical approach. All possible strategies can invade at all times. We also apply adaptive dynamics, adaptive speciation, and the invasion of completely novel species to see how a starting community of a single prey and a single predator species can radiate to become the ESS community.

Conclusion: In the absence of speciation or species invasions, adaptive dynamics cause the existing species to evolve to convergent stable niche archetypes. These archetypes may be local ESS strategies or evolutionary branching points (i.e. convergent stable fitness minima). Initially, adaptive speciation at branching points suffices to increase diversity from one set of niche archetypes to the next. On approaching the ESS community, speciation at one trophic level makes possible further diversification at the other trophic level. The final species to complete an ESS community may require invasions from species with quite different strategy values to those present in the community. In the state space of prey and predator niche breadth, we can plot regions of iso-diversity for the ESS communities of prey and predators.

Keywords: adaptive radiation, co-evolution, evolutionarily stable strategy, evolutionary dynamics, fitness-generating function, niche archetypes, niche co-evolution, species diversity.

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