Environmental perturbations and transitions between ecological and evolutionary equilibria: an eco-evolutionary feedback framework

10.24072/pcjournal.4 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 1 (2021), article no. e6.

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I provide a general framework for linking ecology and evolution. I start from the fact that individuals require energy, trace molecules, water, and mates to survive and reproduce, and that phenotypic resource accrual traits determine an individual’s ability to detect and acquire these resources. Optimum resource accrual traits, and their values, are determined by the dynamics of resources, aspects of the environment that hinder resource detection and acquisition by imposing risks of mortality and reproductive failure, and the energetic costs of developing and maintaining the traits – part of an individual’s energy budget. These budgets also describe how individuals utilize energy by partitioning it into maintenance, development and/or reproduction at each age and size, age and size at sexual maturity, and the size and number of offspring produced at each reproductive event. The optimum energy budget is consequently determined by the optimum life history strategy that describes how resources are utilized to maximize fitness by trading off investments in maintenance, development, and reproductive output at each age and size. The optimum life history in turn determines body size. An eco-evolutionary feedback loop occurs when resource accrual traits evolve to impact the quality and quantity of resources that individuals accrue, resulting in a new optimum life history strategy and energy budget required to deliver it, a change in body size, and altered population dynamics that, in turn, impact the resource base. These feedback loops can be complex, but can be studied by examining the eco-evolutionary journey of communities from one equilibrium state to another following a perturbation to the environment.
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DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.4
Coulson, Tim 1

1 Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
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Coulson, Tim. Environmental perturbations and transitions between ecological and evolutionary equilibria: an eco-evolutionary feedback framework. Peer Community Journal, Volume 1 (2021), article  no. e6. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.4.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.ecology.100053

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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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