Influence of evolution on the stability of ecological communities


  • Nicolas Loeuille

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratoire Ecologie et Evolution, Université Pierre & Marie Curie, CNRS, UMR 7625, 7 quai St Bernard, case 237, F-75005 Paris, France
    2. INRA, USC2031, Ecologie des populations et des communautés, F-75005 Paris, France
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Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 1536–1545


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.