Selection of trilateral continuums of life history strategies under food web interactions
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The study of life history strategies has a long history in ecology and evolution, but determining the underlying mechanisms driving the evolution of life history variation and its consequences for population regulation remains a major challenge. In this study, a food web model with constant environmental conditions was used to demonstrate how multi-species consumer-resource interactions (food-web interactions) can create variation in the duration of the adult stage, age of maturation, and fecundity among species. The model included three key ecological processes: size-dependent species interactions, energetics, and transition among developmental stages. Resultant patterns of life history variation were consistent with previous empirical observations of the life history strategies of aquatic organisms referred to as periodic, equilibrium, and opportunistic strategies (trilateral continuums of life history strategies). Results from the simulation model suggest that these three life history strategies can emerge from food web interactions even when abiotic environmental conditions are held constant.
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