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Journal Article

Consumer co-evolution as an important component of the eco-evolutionary feedback


Becks,  Lutz
Research Group Community Dynamics, Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Hiltunen, T., & Becks, L. (2014). Consumer co-evolution as an important component of the eco-evolutionary feedback. Nature Communications, 5: 5226. doi:10.1038/ncomms6226.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0024-12C2-8
Rapid evolution in ecologically relevant traits has recently been recognized to significantly alter the interaction between consumers and their resources, a key interaction in all ecological communities. While these eco-evolutionary dynamics have been shown to occur when prey populations are evolving, little is known about the role of predator evolution and co-evolution between predator and prey in this context. Here, we investigate the role of consumer co-evolution for eco-evolutionary feedback in bacteria–ciliate microcosm experiments by manipulating the initial trait variation in the predator populations. With co-evolved predators, prey evolve anti-predatory defences faster, trait values are more variable, and predator and prey population sizes are larger at the end of the experiment compared with the non-co-evolved predators. Most importantly, differences in predator traits results in a shift from evolution driving ecology, to ecology driving evolution. Thus we demonstrate that predator co-evolution has important effects on eco-evolutionary dynamics.