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Rapid Exploiter‐Victim Coevolution: The Race Is Not Always to the Swift

Vincent Calcagno, Marion Dubosclard and Claire de Mazancourt
The American Naturalist
Vol. 176, No. 2 (August 2010), pp. 198-211
DOI: 10.1086/653665
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/653665
Page Count: 14
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Rapid Exploiter‐Victim Coevolution: The Race Is Not Always to the Swift
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Abstract

Abstract: The modeling of coevolutionary races has traditionally been dominated by methods invoking a timescale separation between ecological and evolutionary dynamics, the latter assumed to be much slower than the former. Yet it is becoming increasingly clear that in many cases the two processes occur on similar timescales and that such “rapid” evolution can have profound implications for the dynamics of communities and ecosystems. After briefly reviewing the timescale separations most common in coevolution theory, we use a general model of exploiter‐victim coevolution to confront predictions from slow‐evolution analysis with Monte Carlo simulations. We show how rapid evolution radically alters the dynamics and outcome of coevolutionary arms races. In particular, a fast‐evolving exploiter can enable victim diversification and thereby lose a race it is expected to win. We explain simulation results, using mathematical analysis with relaxed timescale separations. Unusual mutation parameters are not required, since rapid evolution naturally emerges from slow competitive exclusion. Our results point to interesting consequences of exploiter rapid evolution and experimentally testable patterns, while indicating that more attention should be paid to rapid evolution in evolutionary theory.

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