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Data from: Chaos and the (un)predictability of evolution in a changing environment

Cite this dataset

Rego Costa, Artur; Débarre, Florence; Chevin, Luis-Miguel; Rego-Costa, Artur (2017). Data from: Chaos and the (un)predictability of evolution in a changing environment [Dataset]. Dryad.


Among the factors that may reduce the predictability of evolution, chaos, characterized by a strong dependence on initial conditions, has received much less attention than randomness due to genetic drift or environmental stochasticity. It was recently shown that chaos in phenotypic evolution arises commonly under frequency-dependent selection caused by competitive interactions mediated by many traits. This result has been used to argue that chaos should often make evolutionary dynamics unpredictable. However, populations also evolve largely in response to external changing environments, and such environmental forcing is likely to influence the outcome of evolution in systems prone to chaos. We investigate how a changing environment causing oscillations of an optimal phenotype interacts with the internal dynamics of an eco-evolutionary system that would be chaotic in a constant environment. We show that strong environmental forcing can improve the predictability of evolution, by reducing the probability of chaos arising, and by dampening the magnitude of chaotic oscillations. In contrast, weak forcing can increase the probability of chaos, but it also causes evolutionary trajectories to track the environment more closely. Overall, our results indicate that, although chaos may occur in evolution, it does not necessarily undermine its predictability.

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