Frequency dependence 3.0: an attempt at codifying the evolutionary ecology perspective

Metz JAJ & Geritz SAH (2016). Frequency dependence 3.0: an attempt at codifying the evolutionary ecology perspective. Journal of Mathematical Biology 72 (4): 1011-1037. DOI:10.1007/s00285-015-0956-2.

Frequency dependence 3.0.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (724kB) | Preview


The fitness concept and perforce the definition of frequency independent fitnesses from population genetics is closely tied to discrete time population models with non-overlapping generations. Evolutionary ecologists generally focus on trait evolution through repeated mutant substitutions in populations with complicated life histories. This goes with using the per capita invasion speed of mutants as their fitness. In this paper we develop a concept of frequency independence that attempts to capture the practical use of the term by ecologists, which although inspired by population genetics rarely fits its strict definition. We propose to call the invasion fitnesses of a eco-evolutionary model frequency independent when the phenotypes can be ranked by competitive strength, measured by who can invade whom. This is equivalent to the absence of weak priority effects, protected dimorphisms and rock-scissor-paper configurations. Our concept differs from that of Heino et al. (TREE 13:367.370, 1998) in that it is based only on the signs of the invasion fitnesses, whereas Heino et al. based their definitions on the structure of the feedback environment, summarising the effect of all direct and indirect interactions between individuals on fitness. As it urns out, according to our new definition an eco-evolutionary model has frequency independent fitnesses if and only if the effect of the feedback environment on the fitness signs can be summarised by a single scalar with monotonic effect. This may be compared with Heino et al.'s concept of trivial frequency dependence defined by the environmental feedback influencing fitness, and not just its sign, in a scalar manner, without an monotonicity restriction. As it turns out, absence of the latter restriction leaves room for rock-scissor-paper configurations. Since in 'realisic' (as opposed to toy) models frequency independence is exceedingly rare, we also define a concept of weak frequency dependence, which can be interpreted intuitively as almost frequency independence, and analyse in which sense and to what extent the restrictions on the potential model otcomes of the frequency independent case stay intact for models with weak frequency dependence.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: frequency dependence; frequency independence; weak frequency dependence; invasion fitness; meso-evolutionary statics; ESS theory; feedback environment; optimisation principle; pessimisation principle; adaptive dynamics
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2016 09:17
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2017 11:56

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313