Evolutionary community assembly with size-structured populations

Department of Mathematics, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

Lai Zhang

Lai Zhang

A key issue in ecology is to understand mechanisms and processes causing speciation and extinction. Earlier theoretical studies have been based either on (i) physiologically unstructured populations of individuals characterized by one or more evolving traits or on (ii) continuously sizestructured populations of individuals characterized by their maximally attainable size as the single evolving trait. While these models prioritize evolutionary or ecological realism, respectively, they suffer from complementary limitations: models (i) oversimplify individual life histories, while models (ii) are unable to explain the coexistence of ecologically different species with comparable asymptotic body size.

A natural way of overcoming these limitations is to synthesize the two model types, by considering an evolving trait describing an individual’s ecological niche in addition to one describing its asymptotic size. Hence, the first goal of this project is to develop and implement a continuously size-structured population model with two evolving traits describing asymptotic size and ecological niche. We will then explore conditions under which species can diversify in these traits and examine the resultant multi-species communities.

Technically, our model will use the canonical equation of adaptive dynamics theory together with numerical solutions of continuously size-structured population models to simulate the dynamics of evolutionary community assembly

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Last edited: 24 March 2016

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