Skip to main content

Data from: Stability of a coevolving host-parasite system peaks at intermediate productivity

Cite this dataset

Zhao, Xin-Feng; Hao, Yi-Qi; Zhang, Quan-Guo (2017). Data from: Stability of a coevolving host-parasite system peaks at intermediate productivity [Dataset]. Dryad.


Habitat productivity may affect the stability of consumer-resource systems, through both ecological and evolutionary mechanisms. We hypothesize that coevolving consumer-resource systems show more stable dynamics at intermediate resource availability, while very low-level resource supply cannot support sufficiently large populations of resource and consumer species to avoid stochastic extinction, and extremely resource-rich environments may promote escalatory arms-race-like coevolution that can cause strong fluctuations in species abundance and even extinction of one or both trophic levels.We tested these ideas by carrying out an experimental evolution study with a model bacterium-phage system (Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 and its phage SBW25Φ2). Consistent with our hypothesis, this system was most stable at intermediate resource supply (fewer extinction events and smaller magnitude of population fluctuation). In our experiment, the rate of coevolution between bacterial resistance and phage infectivity was correlated with the magnitude of population fluctuation, which may explain the different in stability between levels of resource supply. Crucially, our results are consistent with a suggestion that, among the two major modes of antagonistic coevolution, arms race is more likely than fluctuation selection dynamics to cause extinction events in consumer-resource systems. This study suggests an important role of environment-dependent coevolutionary dynamics for the stability of consumer-resource species systems, therefore highlights the importance to consider contemporaneous evolutionary dynamics when studying the stability of ecosystems,particularly those under environmental changes.

Usage notes