Trade-offs and the evolution of life-histories during range expansion


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Ecology Letters (2010)


During range-advance, individuals on the expanding edge of the population face a unique selective environment. In this study, we use a three-trait trade-off model to explore the evolution of dispersal, reproduction and competitive ability during range expansion. We show that range expansion greatly affects the evolution of life-history traits due to differing selection pressures at the front of the range compared with those found in stationary and core populations. During range expansion, dispersal and reproduction are selected for on the expanding population front, whereas traits associated with fitness at equilibrium density (competitive ability) show dramatic declines. Additionally, we demonstrate that the presence of a competing species can considerably reduce the extent to which dispersal is selected upwards at an expanding front. These findings have important implications for understanding both the rate of spread of invasive species and the range-shifting dynamics of native species in response to climate change.