Individual phenotypic variation reduces interaction strengths in a consumer-resource system.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Natural populations often show variation in traits that can affect the strength of interspecific interactions. Interaction strengths in turn influence the fate of pairwise interacting populations and the stability of food webs. Understanding the mechanisms relating individual phenotypic variation to interaction strengths is thus central to assess how trait variation affects population and community dynamics. We incorporated nonheritable variation in attack rates and handling times into a classical consumer-resource model to investigate how variation may alter interaction strengths, population dynamics, species persistence, and invasiveness. We found that individual variation influences species persistence through its effect on interaction strengths. In many scenarios, interaction strengths decrease with variation, which in turn affects species coexistence and stability. Because environmental change alters the direction and strength of selection acting upon phenotypic traits, our results have implications for species coexistence in a context of habitat fragmentation, climate change, and the arrival of exotic species to native ecosystems.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gibert, JP; Brassil, CE

Published Date

  • September 5, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 4 / 18

Start / End Page

  • 3703 - 3713

PubMed ID

  • 25478159

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4224542

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2045-7758

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2045-7758

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/ece3.1212


  • eng