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How (co)evolution alters predator responses to increased mortality: extinction thresholds and hydra effects.

08:00 EDT 12th July 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "How (co)evolution alters predator responses to increased mortality: extinction thresholds and hydra effects."

Population responses to environmental change depend on both the ecological interactions between species and the evolutionary responses of all species. In this study, we explore how evolution in prey, predators, or both species affect the responses of predator populations to a sustained increase in mortality. We use an eco-evolutionary predator-prey model to explore how evolution alters the predator extinction threshold (defined as the minimum mortality rate that prevents population growth at low predator densities) and predator hydra effects (increased predator abundance in response to increased mortality). Our analysis identifies how evolutionary responses of prey and predators individually affect the predator extinction threshold and hydra effects, and how those effects are altered by interactions between the evolutionary responses. Based on our theoretical results, we predict that it is common in natural systems for evolutionary responses in one or both species to allow predators to persist at higher mortality rates than would be possible in the absence of evolution (i.e., evolution increases the predator mortality extinction threshold). We also predict that evolution-driven hydra effects occur in a minority of natural systems, but not rare. We revisited published eco-evolutionary models and found that evolution causes hydra effects and increases the predator extinction threshold in many studies, but those effects have been overlooked. We discuss the implications of these results for species conservation, predicting population responses to environmental change, and the possibility of evolutionary rescue.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Ecology
ISSN: 1939-9170
Pages: e02789

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