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Genetica. 2001;112-113:71-86.

Population structure inhibits evolutionary diversification under competition for resources.

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Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, ON, Canada.


A model is presented that explores how population structure affects the evolutionary outcome of ecological competition for resources. The model assumes that competition for resources occurs within groups of a finite number of individuals (interaction groups), and that limited dispersal of individuals between groups (according to Wright's island model of population structure) results in genetic structuring of the population. It is found that both finite-sized interaction groups and limited dispersal can have substantial effects on the evolution of resource exploitation strategies as compared to models with a single, infinitely large, well-mixed interaction group. Both effects, in general, tend to select for less aggressive competitive strategies. Moreover, both effects also tend to reduce the likelihood of the evolutionary diversification of resource exploitation strategies that often occurs in models of resource competition with infinite populations. The results are discussed in the context of theories of the evolutionary diversification of resource exploitation strategies and speciation.

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