Data from: Evolutionary rescue and the coexistence of generalist and specialist competitors: an experimental test
Bono, Lisa M. et al. (2015), Data from: Evolutionary rescue and the coexistence of generalist and specialist competitors: an experimental test, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.p6d88
Competition for resources is thought to play a critical role in both the origins and maintenance of biodiversity. Although numerous laboratory evolution experiments have confirmed that competition can be a key driver of adaptive diversification, few have demonstrated its role in the maintenance of the resulting diversity. We investigate the conditions that favor the origin and maintenance of alternative generalist and specialist resource-use phenotypes within the same population. Previously, we confirmed that competition for hosts among Φ6 bacteriophage in a mixed novel (non-permissive) and ancestral (permissive) host microcosm triggered the evolution of a generalist phenotype capable of infecting both hosts. However, because the newly evolved generalists tended to competitively exclude the ancestral specialists, coexistence between the two phenotypes was rare. Here, we show that reducing the relative abundance of the novel host slowed the increase in frequency of the generalist phenotype, allowing sufficient time for the specialist to further adapt to the ancestral host. This adaptation resulted in “evolutionary rescue” of the specialists, preventing their competitive exclusion by the generalists. Thus, our results suggest that competition promotes both the origin and maintenance of biodiversity when it is strong enough to favor a novel resource-use phenotype, but weak enough to allow adaptation of both the novel and ancestral phenotypes to their respective niches.