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Keywords:

  • Adaptive dynamics;
  • community stability;
  • directional selection;
  • diversity-stability debate;
  • population dynamics stability

Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 1536–1545

Abstract

In randomly assembled communities, diversity is known to have a destabilizing effect. Evolution may affect this result, but our theoretical knowledge of its role is mostly limited to models of small food webs. In the present article, I introduce evolution in a two-species Lotka–Volterra model in which I vary the interaction type and the cost constraining evolution. Regardless of the cost type, evolution tends to stabilize the dynamics more often in trophic interactions than for mutualism or competition. I then use simulations to study the effect of evolution in larger communities that contain all interaction types. Results suggest that evolution usually stabilizes the dynamics. This stabilizing effect is stronger when evolution affects trophic interactions, but happens for all interaction types. Stabilization decreases with diversity and evolution becomes destabilizing in very diverse communities. This suggests that evolution may not counteract the destabilizing effect of diversity observed in random communities.