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Trends Ecol Evol. 2011 Jul;26(7):349-58. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2011.03.016. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Red Queen: from populations to taxa and communities.

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Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Department of Biology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway.


Biotic interactions via the struggle for control of energy and the interactive effects of biota with their physical environment characterize Van Valen's Red Queen (VRQ). Here, we review new evidence for and against a VRQ view of the world from studies of increasing temporal and spatial scales. Interactions among biota and with the physical environment are important for generating and maintaining diversity on diverse timescales, but detailed mechanisms remain poorly understood. We recommend directly estimating the effect of biota and the physical environment on ecological and evolutionary processes. Promising approaches for elucidating VRQ include using mathematical modelling, controlled experimental systems, sampling and processes-oriented approaches for analysing data from natural systems, while paying extra attention to biotic interactions discernable from the fossil record.

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