Biotic interaction strength and the intensity of selection


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Although the ecological and evolutionary impacts of species interactions have been the foci of much research, the relationship between the strength of species interactions and the intensity of selection has been investigated only rarely. I develop a simple model demonstrating how the opportunity for selection varies with interaction strength, and then use the relationship between the maximum value of the selection differential and the opportunity for selection (Arnold & Wade 1984) to evaluate how selection differentials vary in relation to species interaction strength. This model predicts an initial deceleration and then an accelerating increase in the intensity of selection with increasing strength of antagonistic interactions and with decreasing strength of mutualistic interactions. Empirical data from several studies provide support for this model. These results further support an evolutionary mechanism for some striking patterns of evolutionary diversification including the latitudinal species gradient, and should be relevant to studies of eco-evolutionary dynamics.