Variation in the relative magnitude of intraspecific and interspecific competitive effects in novel versus familiar environments in twoDrosophila species
Models of competitor coevolution, especially the genetic feedback hypothesis, suggest that a negative correlation between intraspecific and interspecific competitive effects may be important in sustaining competitor coexistence, and can give rise to oscillatory dynamics with repeated reversals of competitive superiority. I reanalyzed previously published census data from an experiment in which populationsof Drosophila melanogaster andD. simulans underwent competitive coevolution in one familiar and two novel environments, to specifically look for any evidence of a negative relationship between intraspecific and interspecific competitive effects on population growth rates, and for any indication of short period cycling in the relative magnitude of intraspecific and interspecific competitive effects. While there was considerable variation in the relative magnitude of intraspecific and interspecific competitive effects over generations, among both populations and environments, there was no clear evidence supporting the genetic feedback hypothesis. Intraspecific and interspecific competitive effects on population growth rates were strongly positively correlated in novel environments, and uncorrelated in the familiar environment. Data from the familiar environment indicated that indices of competition of populations of the initially superior competitor,D. melanogaster, might be showing some cyclic behaviour, but I argue that this is likely to be transient, and not suggestive of sustained oscillatory dynamics predicted by the genetic feedback model. I discuss the results in the context of the importance of the genetic architecture of intraspecific and interspecific competitive abilities in determining the coevolutionary trajectory of competitive interactions.
Volume 99, 2020
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