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Bull Math Biol. 2004 Nov;66(6):1547-73.

Evolutionary tradeoff and equilibrium in an aquatic predator-prey system.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.


Due to the conventional distinction between ecological (rapid) and evolutionary (slow) timescales, ecological and population models have typically ignored the effects of evolution. Yet the potential for rapid evolutionary change has been recently established and may be critical to understanding how populations persist in changing environments. In this paper we examine the relationship between ecological and evolutionary dynamics, focusing on a well-studied experimental aquatic predator-prey system (Fussmann et al., 2000, Science, 290, 1358-1360; Shertzer et al., 2002, J. Anim. Ecol., 71, 802-815; Yoshida et al., 2003, Nature, 424, 303-306). Major properties of predator-prey cycles in this system are determined by ongoing evolutionary dynamics in the prey population. Under some conditions, however, the populations tend to apparently stable steady-state densities. These are the subject of the present paper. We examine a previously developed model for the system, to determine how evolution shapes properties of the equilibria, in particular the number and identity of coexisting prey genotypes. We then apply these results to explore how evolutionary dynamics can shape the responses of the system to 'management': externally imposed alterations in conditions. Specifically, we compare the behavior of the system including evolutionary dynamics, with predictions that would be made if the potential for rapid evolutionary change is neglected. Finally, we posit some simple experiments to verify our prediction that evolution can have significant qualitative effects on observed population-level responses to changing conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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