Evolutionary predictions should be based on individual-level traits

Rueffler, C., Egas, M., & Metz, J.A.J. (2006). Evolutionary predictions should be based on individual-level traits. The American Naturalist 168 (5) E148-E162. 10.1086/508618.

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Recent theoretical studies have analyzed the evolution of habitat specialization using either the logistic or the Ricker equation. These studies have implemented evolutionary change directly in population-level parameters such as habitat-specific intrinsic growth rates r or carrying capacities K. This approach is a shortcut to a more detailed analysis where evolutionary change is studied in underlying morphological, physiological, or behavioral traits at the level of the individual that contribute to r or K. Here we describe two pitfalls that can occur when such a shortcut is employed. First, population-level parameters that appear as independent variables in a population dynamical model might not be independent when derived from processes at the individual level. Second, patterns of covariation between individual-level traits are usually not conserved when mapped to the level of demographic parameters. Nonlinear mappings constrain the curvature of trade-offs that can sensibly be assumed at the population level. To illustrate these results, we derive a two-habitat version of the logistic and Ricker equations from individual-level processes and compare the evolutionary dynamics of habitat-specific carrying capacities with those of underlying individual-level traits contributing to the carrying capacities. Finally, we sketch how our viewpoint affects the results of earlier studies.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Bibliographic Reference: The American Naturalist; 168(5):E148-E162 (November 2006)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:19
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:19
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/7866

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