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How does joint evolution of consumer traits affect resource specialization?


Vasconcelos, Paula; Rueffler, Claus (2019), How does joint evolution of consumer traits affect resource specialization?, Dryad, Dataset,


Consumers regularly experience trade-offs in their ability to find, handle and digest different resources. Evolutionary ecologists recognized the significance of this observation for the evolution and maintenance of biological diversity long ago and continue to elaborate on the conditions under which to expect one or several specialists, generalists or combinations thereof. Existing theory based on a single evolving trait predicts that specialization requires strong trade-offs such that generalists perform relatively poorly, while weak trade-offs favor a single generalist. Here, we show that this simple dichotomy does not hold true under joint evolution of two or more foraging traits. In this case, the boundary between trade-offs resulting in resource specialists and resource generalists is shifted toward weaker trade-off curvatures. In particular, weak trade-offs can result in evolutionary branching leading to the evolution of two coexisting resource specialists while the evolution of a single resource generalist requires particularly weak trade-offs. These findings are explained by performance benefits due to epistatic trait interactions enjoyed by phenotypes that are specialized in more than one trait for the same resource.


Vasconcelos&Rueffler2019AmNat.nb: This notebook is written in Wolfram Mathematica 11. It contains all calculations, both symbolic and numerical, on which our results are based.

Vasconcelos&Rueffler2019AmNat_simulations.m: Simulation code written in MatLab.


Usage Notes

The settings for the notebook are read only. If you want to modify the code you can copy and paste code in your own file.


CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brasil)