Selection for intermediate mortality and reproduction rates in a spatially structured population.
How local interactions influence both population and evolutionary dynamics is currently a key topic in theoretical ecology. We use a 'well-mixed' analytical model and spatially explicit individual-based models to investigate a system where a population is subject to rare disturbance events. The disturbance can only propagate through regions of the population where the density of individuals is sufficiently high and individuals affected by the disturbance die shortly after. We find that populations where individuals are sessile often exhibit very different dynamic behaviour when compared to populations where individuals are mobile and spatially well mixed. When mutations are allowed which affect either offspring birth rates or mortality rates, the well-mixed populations always evolve to a state where a single disturbance event leads to extinction. Populations often persist substantially longer if individuals are sessile and they disperse their offspring locally. We also find that for sessile populations selection may favour short-lived individuals with limited offspring production. Population dynamics are found to be strongly influenced by the host characters that are evolving and the rate at which host variation is introduced into the system.
Richards, SA; Wilson, WG; Socolar, JE
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