New publication: Relative size predicts competitive outcome through 2 million years
Competition is an important biotic interaction that influences survival and reproduction. While competition on ecological timescales has received great attention, little is known about competition on evolutionary timescales. Do competitive abilities change over hundreds of thousands to millions of years? Can we predict competitive outcomes using phenotypic traits? How much do traits that confer competitive advantage and competitive outcomes change? Here we show, using communities of encrusting marine bryozoans spanning more than 2 million years, that size is a significant determinant of overgrowth outcomes: colonies with larger zooids tend to overgrow colonies with smaller zooids. We also detected temporally coordinated changes in average zooid sizes, suggesting that different species responded to a common external driver. Although species-specific average zooid sizes change over evolutionary timescales, species-specific competitive abilities seem relatively stable, suggesting that traits other than zooid size also control overgrowth outcomes and/or that evolutionary constraints are involved.
First published: 14 June 2017
* Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, UiO, Oslo, Norway.
See the publication webpage for full author information.