THE LIMITS OF ADAPTATION: HUMANS AND THE PREDATOR–PREY ARMS RACE
Article first published online: 3 MAR 2012
© 2012 The Author.
Volume 66, Issue 7, pages 2007–2014, July 2012
How to Cite
Vermeij, G. J. (2012), THE LIMITS OF ADAPTATION: HUMANS AND THE PREDATOR–PREY ARMS RACE. Evolution, 66: 2007–2014. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01592.x
- Issue published online: 3 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 3 MAR 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 3 FEB 2012 02:50PM EST
- Received October 20, 2011, Accepted January 24, 2012
In the history of life, species have adapted to their consumers by evolving a wide variety of defenses. By contrast, animal species harvested in the wild by humans have not adapted structurally. Nonhuman predators have high failure rates at one or more stages of an attack, indicating that victim species have spatial refuges or phenotypic defenses that permit further functional improvement. A new compilation confirms that species in the wild cannot achieve immunity from human predation with structural defenses. The only remaining options are to become undesirable or to live in or escape to places where harvesting by people is curtailed. Escalation between prey defenses and predators’ weapons may be restricted under human dominance to interactions involving those low-level predators that have benefited from human overexploitation of top consumers.