- Evolutionary Predictions Should Be Based on Individual-Level Traits
- American Naturalist
- Volume | Issue number
- 168 | 5
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Abstract: Recent theoretical studies have analyzed the evolution of habitat specialization using either the logistic or the Ricker equation. These studies have implemented evolutionary change directly in population-level parameters such as habitat-specific intrinsic growth rates r or carrying capacities K. This approach is a shortcut to a more detailed analysis where evolutionary change is studied in underlying morphological, physiological, or behavioral traits at the level of the individual that contribute to r or K. Here we describe two pitfalls that can occur when such a shortcut is employed. First, population-level parameters that appear as independent variables in a population dynamical model might not be independent when derived
from processes at the individual level. Second, patterns of covariation between individual-level traits are usually not conserved when mapped to the level of demographic parameters. Nonlinear mappings constrain the curvature of trade-offs that can sensibly be assumed at the population level. To illustrate these results, we derive a two-habitat version of the logistic and Ricker equations from individual-level processes and compare the evolutionary dynamics
of habitat-specific carrying capacities with those of underlying individual-level traits contributing to the carrying capacities. Finally, we sketch how our viewpoint affects the results of earlier studies.
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