Eco-evolutionary Dynamics of Individual-Based Food Webs

Melian Penate, Carlos Javier; Vilas, César; Baldó, Francisco; González-Ortegón, Enrique; Drake, Pilar; Williams, Richard J. (2011). Eco-evolutionary Dynamics of Individual-Based Food Webs. In: Belgrano, Andrea (ed.) The Role of Body Size in Multispecies Systems. Advances in Ecological Research: Vol. 45 (pp. 225-268). Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/B978-0-12-386475-8.00006-X

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The past decade has seen the rise of high resolution datasets. One of the main surprises of analysing such data has been the discovery of a large genetic, phenotypic and behavioural variation and heterogeneous metabolic rates among individuals within natural populations. A parallel discovery from theory and experiments has shown a strong temporal convergence between evolutionary and ecological dynamics, but a general framework to analyse from individual-level processes the convergence between ecological and evolutionary dynamics and its implications for patterns of biodiversity in food webs has been particularly lacking. Here, as a first approximation to take into account intraspecific variability and the convergence between the ecological and evolutionary dynamics in large food webs, we develop a model from population genomics and microevolutionary processes that uses sexual reproduction, genetic-distance-based speciation and trophic interactions. We confront the model with the prey consumption per individual predator, species-level connectance and prey–predator diversity in several environmental situations using a large food web with approximately 25,000 sampled prey and predator individuals. We show higher than expected diversity of abundant species in heterogeneous environmental conditions and strong deviations from the observed distribution of individual prey consumption (i.e. individual connectivity per predator) in all the environmental conditions. The observed large variance in individual prey consumption regardless of the environmental variability collapsed species-level connectance after small increases in sampling effort. These results suggest (1) intraspecific variance in prey–predator interactions has a strong effect on the macroscopic properties of food webs and (2) intraspecific variance is a potential driver regulating the speed of the convergence between ecological and evolutionary dynamics in species-rich food webs. These results also suggest that genetic–ecological drift driven by sexual reproduction, equal feeding rate among predator individuals, mutations and genetic-distance-based speciation can be used as a neutral food web dynamics test to detect the ecological and microevolutionary processes underlying the observed patterns of individual and species-based food webs at local and macroecological scales.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Aquatic Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Melian Penate, Carlos Javier


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology






Advances in Ecological Research






Marcel Häsler

Date Deposited:

05 Sep 2014 16:00

Last Modified:

18 Jan 2015 23:31

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Neutral molecular evolution, Neutral biodiversity theory, Genetic graphs, Ecological networks, Food webs, Diversity, Prey consumption, Individual connectivity, Sexual reproduction, Sampling effort, Species level connectance, Genetic and ecological drift, Genetic and ecological speciation




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