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Keywords:

  • α-Selection;
  • competitive ability;
  • constancy;
  • density-dependent selection;
  • K-selection;
  • life-history evolution;
  • persistence;
  • population dynamics

Abstract

Density-dependent selection is expected to lead to population stability, especially if r and K tradeoff. Yet, there is no empirical evidence of adaptation to crowding leading to the evolution of stability. We show that populations of Drosophila ananassae selected for adaptation to larval crowding have higher K and lower r, and evolve greater stability than controls. We also show that increased population growth rates at high density can enhance stability, even in the absence of a decrease in r, by ensuring that the crowding adapted populations do not fall to very low sizes. We discuss our results in the context of traits known to have diverged between the selected and control populations, and compare our results with previous work on the evolution of stability in D. melanogaster. Overall, our results suggest that density-dependent selection may be an important factor promoting the evolution of relatively stable dynamics in natural populations.