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Eco-evolutionary Dynamics of Individual-Based Food Webs

AuthorsMelián, Carlos J. ; Vilas, César; Baldó, Francisco; González-Ortegón, Enrique ; Drake, Pilar ; Williams, Richard J.
KeywordsGenetic and ecological drift
Genetic and ecological speciation
Species level connectance
Sampling effort
Sexual reproduction
Neutral molecular evolution
Neutral biodiversity theory
Genetic graphs
Ecological networks
Food webs
Prey consumption
Individual connectivity
Issue Date2011
CitationAdvances in Ecological Research 45: 225-268 (2011)
AbstractThe past decade has seen the rise of high resolution datasets. One of the main surprises of analysing such data has been the discovery of a large genetic, phenotypic and behavioural variation and heterogeneous metabolic rates among individuals within natural populations. A parallel discovery from theory and experiments has shown a strong temporal convergence between evolutionary and ecological dynamics, but a general framework to analyse from individual-level processes the convergence between ecological and evolutionary dynamics and its implications for patterns of biodiversity in food webs has been particularly lacking. Here, as a first approximation to take into account intraspecific variability and the convergence between the ecological and evolutionary dynamics in large food webs, we develop a model from population genomics and microevolutionary processes that uses sexual reproduction, genetic-distance-based speciation and trophic interactions. We confront the model with the prey consumption per individual predator, species-level connectance and prey-predator diversity in several environmental situations using a large food web with approximately 25,000 sampled prey and predator individuals. We show higher than expected diversity of abundant species in heterogeneous environmental conditions and strong deviations from the observed distribution of individual prey consumption (i.e. individual connectivity per predator) in all the environmental conditions. The observed large variance in individual prey consumption regardless of the environmental variability collapsed species-level connectance after small increases in sampling effort. These results suggest (1) intraspecific variance in prey-predator interactions has a strong effect on the macroscopic properties of food webs and (2) intraspecific variance is a potential driver regulating the speed of the convergence between ecological and evolutionary dynamics in species-rich food webs. These results also suggest that genetic-ecological drift driven by sexual reproduction, equal feeding rate among predator individuals, mutations and genetic-distance-based speciation can be used as a neutral food web dynamics test to detect the ecological and microevolutionary processes underlying the observed patterns of individual and species-based food webs at local and macroecological scales. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-386475-8.00006-X
issn: 0065-2504
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