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Journal Articles Ecology Letters Year : 2023

Coevolution of species colonisation rates controls food‐chain length in spatially structured food webs

Vincent Calcagno
François Massol

Abstract

How the complexity of food webs depends on environmental variables is a long‐standing ecological question. It is unclear though how food‐chain length should vary with adaptive evolution of the constitutive species. Here we model the evolution of species colonisation rates and its consequences on occupancies and food‐chain length in metacommunities. When colonisation rates can evolve, longer food‐chains can persist. Extinction, perturbation and habitat loss all affect evolutionarily stable colonisation rates, but the strength of the competition‐colonisation trade‐off has a major role: weaker trade‐offs yield longer chains. Although such eco‐evo dynamics partly alleviates the spatial constraint on food‐chain length, it is no magic bullet: the highest, most vulnerable, trophic levels are also those that least benefit from evolution. We provide qualitative predictions regarding how trait evolution affects the response of communities to disturbance and habitat loss. This highlights the importance of eco‐evolutionary dynamics at metacommunity level in determining food‐chain length.
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Dates and versions

hal-04252338 , version 1 (20-10-2023)

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Vincent Calcagno, Patrice David, Philippe Jarne, François Massol. Coevolution of species colonisation rates controls food‐chain length in spatially structured food webs. Ecology Letters, 2023, 26 (S1), pp.S140-S151. ⟨10.1111/ele.14263⟩. ⟨hal-04252338⟩
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