Evolutionary Biology

The evolutionary dynamics of plastic foraging and its ecological consequences: a resource-consumer model

10.24072/pcjournal.330 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article no. e99.

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Phenotypic plasticity has important ecological and evolutionary consequences. In particular, behavioural phenotypic plasticity such as plastic foraging (PF) by consumers, may enhance community stability. Yet little is known about the ecological conditions that favor the evolution of PF, and how the evolutionary dynamics of PF may modulate its effects on community stability. In order to address these questions, we constructed an eco-evolutionary model in which resource and consumer niche traits underwent evolutionary diversification. Consumers could either forage randomly, only as a function of resources abundance, or plastically, as a function of resource abundance, suitability and consumption by competitors. PF evolved when the niche breadth of consumers with respect to resource use was large enough and when the ecological conditions allowed substantial functional diversification. In turn, PF promoted further diversification of the niche traits in both guilds. This suggests that phenotypic plasticity can influence the evolutionary dynamics at the community-level. Faced with a sudden environmental change, PF promoted community stability directly and also indirectly through its effects on functional diversity. However, other disturbances such as persistent environmental change and increases in mortality, caused the evolutionary regression of the PF behaviour, due to its costs. The causal relationships between PF, community stability and diversity are therefore intricate, and their outcome depends on the nature of the environmental disturbance, in contrast to simpler models claiming a direct positive relationship between PF and stability.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.330
Keywords: phenotypic plasticity, adaptive foraging, plastic foraging, eco-evolutionnary dynamics, community stability
Ledru, Léo 1; Garnier, Jimmy 2; Guillot, Océane 1; Faou, Erwan 3; Noûs, Camille 4; Ibanez, Sébastien 1

1 Univ. Savoie Mont Blanc, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, UMR 5553 LECA, France
2 Univ. Savoie Mont Blanc, CNRS, UMR 8050 LAMA, France
3 Univ. Rennes 1, INRIA, CNRS, UMR 6625 IRMAR, France
4 Laboratory Cogitamus
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Ledru, Léo; Garnier, Jimmy; Guillot, Océane; Faou, Erwan; Noûs, Camille; Ibanez, Sébastien. The evolutionary dynamics of plastic foraging and its ecological consequences: a resource-consumer model. Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article  no. e99. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.330. https://peercommunityjournal.org/articles/10.24072/pcjournal.330/

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100654

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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