Send to

Choose Destination
Am Nat. 2013 May;181 Suppl 1:S76-99. doi: 10.1086/668120. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

Predicting and detecting reciprocity between indirect ecological interactions and evolution.

Author information

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California-Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA.


Living nature can be thought of as a tapestry, defined not only by its constituent parts but also by how these parts are woven together. The weaving of this tapestry is a metaphor for species interactions, which can be divided into three broad classes: competitive, mutualistic, and consumptive. Direct interactions link together as more complex networks, for example, the joining of consumptive interactions into food webs. Food web dynamics are driven, in turn, by changes in the abundances of web members, whose numbers or biomass respond to bottom-up (resource limitation) and top-down (consumer limitation) forcing. The relative strengths of top-down and bottom-up forcing on the abundance of a given web member depend on its ecological context, including its topological position within the food web. Top-down effects by diverse consumers are nearly ubiquitous, in many cases influencing the structure and operation of ecosystems. While the ecological effects of such interactions are well known, far less is known of their evolutionary consequences. In this essay, we describe sundry consequences of these interaction chains on species and ecosystem processes, explain several known or suspected evolutionary effects of consumer-induced interaction chains, and identify areas where reciprocity between ecology and evolution involving the indirect effects of consumer-prey interaction chains might be further explored.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for University of Chicago Press
Loading ...
Support Center