K. Parvinen and Å. Brännström (2016)
Evolution of site-selection stabilizes population dynamics, promotes even distribution of individuals, and occasionally causes evolutionary suicide
Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 78, 1749-1772
Available online


Species that compete for access to or use of sites, such as parasitic mites attaching to honey bees or apple maggots laying eggs in fruits, can potentially increase their fitness by carefully selecting sites at which they face little or no competition. Here, we systematically investigate the evolution of site-selection strategies among animals competing for discrete sites. By developing and analyzing a mechanistic and population-dynamical model of site selection in which searching individuals encounter sites sequentially and can choose to accept or continue to search based on how many conspecifics are already there, we give a complete characterisation of the different site-selection strategies that can evolve. We find that evolution of site selection stabilizes population dynamics, promotes even distribution of individuals among sites, and occasionally causes evolutionary suicide. We also discuss the broader implications of our findings and propose how they can be reconciled with an earlier study (by Nonaka et al. J. Theor. Biol 2013) that reported selection towards ever higher levels of aggregation among sites as a consequence of site selection.

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