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Runaway Evolution to Self-Extinction Under Asymmetrical Competition

Hiroyuki Matsuda and Peter A. Abrams
Evolution
Vol. 48, No. 6 (Dec., 1994), pp. 1764-1772
DOI: 10.2307/2410506
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410506
Page Count: 9
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Runaway Evolution to Self-Extinction Under Asymmetrical Competition
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Abstract

We analyze a popular model of the evolution of traits related to performance in exploitative competition. This model has previously been used to explain a mechanism by which interspecific competition can cause taxon cycles. We show that purely intraspecific competition can cause evolution of extreme competitive abilities that ultimately result in extinction, without any influence from other species. The only change in the model required for this outcome is the assumption of a nonnormal distribution of resources of different sizes measured on a logarithmic scale. This suggests that taxon cycles, if they exist, may be driven by within- rather than between-species competition. Self-extinction does not occur when the advantage conferred by a large value of the competitive trait (e.g., size) is relatively small, or when the carrying capacity decreases at a comparatively rapid rate with increases in trait value. The evidence regarding these assumptions is discussed. The results suggest a need for more data on resource distributions and size-advantage in order to understand the evolution of competitive traits such as body size.

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