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The evolutionary consequences of interspecific aggression

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Abstract

Competition has always been a cornerstone of evolutionary biology, and aggression is the predominant form of direct competition in animals, but the evolutionary effects of aggression between species are curiously understudied. Only in the past few years, existing theoretical frameworks have been extended to include interspecific aggression, and significant empirical advances have been made. After arguing that agonistic character displacement (ACD) theory provides the most suitable theoretical framework, we review new empirical evidence for ACD and the results of mathematical models of the process. We consider how ACD can be distinguished empirically from ecological and reproductive character displacement and the additional challenges posed by developmental plasticity. We also provide the first taxonomically broad review of theoretical and empirical work on the effects of interspecific aggression on species coexistence and range limits. We conclude by highlighting promising directions for future research on the evolutionary effects of interspecific aggression.

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