Send to

Choose Destination
Ecol Lett. 2014 Aug;17(8):915-23. doi: 10.1111/ele.12291. Epub 2014 May 12.

A newly discovered role of evolution in previously published consumer-resource dynamics.

Author information

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA; Department of Food and Environmental Sciences/Microbiology, University of Helsinki, Viikki Biocenter, FIN-00014, Helsinki, Finland.


Consumer-resource interactions are fundamental components of ecological communities. Classic features of consumer-resource models are that temporal dynamics are often cyclic, with a ¼-period lag between resource and consumer population peaks. However, there are few published empirical examples of this pattern. Here, we show that many published examples of consumer-resource cycling show instead patterns indicating eco-evolutionary dynamics. When prey evolve along a trade-off between defence and competitive ability, two-species consumer-resource cycles become longer and antiphase (half-period lag, so consumer maxima coincide with minima of the resource species). Using stringent criteria, we identified 21 two-species consumer-resource time series, published between 1934 and 1997, suitable to investigate for eco-evolutionary dynamics. We developed a statistical method to probe for a transition from classic to eco-evolutionary cycles, and find evidence for eco-evolutionary type cycles in about half of the studies. We show that rapid prey evolution is the most likely explanation for the observed patterns.


Eco-evolutionary dynamics; host-parasite interaction; population cycles; predator-prey interaction; rapid evolution; retrospective analysis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center