Papers in the Biological Sciences



Date of this Version



Am. Nat. 2017. Vol. 189, pp. 592–597.


2017 by The University of Chicago


Population dynamics may carry a signature of an ecology- evolution-ecology feedback, known as eco-evolutionary dynamics, when functionally important traits change. Given current theory, the absence of a feedback from a trait with strong links to species interactions should not occur. In a previous study with the Didinium-Paramecium predator-prey system, however, rapid and large-magnitude changes in predator cell volume occurred without any noticeable effect on the population dynamics. Here I resolve this theory-data conflict by showing that ecological pleiotropy—when a trait has more than one functional effect on an ecological process—suppresses shifts in dynamics that would arise, given the links between cell volume and the species interaction. Whether eco-evolutionary dynamics arise, therefore, depends not just on the ecology-evolution feedback but on the net effect that a trait has on different parts of the underlying interaction.

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