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Am Nat. 2008 Jun;171(6):788-99. doi: 10.1086/587745.

Evolution in metacommunities: on the relative importance of species sorting and monopolization in structuring communities.

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University of Texas, Section of Integrative Biology, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


Adaptive evolution within species and community assembly involving multiple species are both affected by dispersal and spatiotemporal environmental variation and may thus interact with each other. We examined this interaction in a simple three-patch metacommunity and found that these two processes produce very different associations between species composition and local environment. In most conditions, we find a pattern we call "species sorting," wherein local adaptation by resident species cannot prevent invasions by other preadapted species as environmental conditions change (strong association between local environmental conditions and local community composition). When dispersal rates are very low relative to the other two rates, local adaptation by resident species predominates, leading to strong priority effects that prevent successful colonization by other species that would have been well adapted, a pattern we call "local monopolization." When dispersal and evolutionary rates are both very high, we find that an evolving species outcompetes other species in all patches, a pattern we call "global monopolization." When environmental oscillations are very frequent, local monopolization predominates. Our findings indicate that there can be strong modification of community assembly by local adaptive processes and that these depend strongly on the relative rates of evolution, dispersal, and environmental change.

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