The effects of ecological and genetic neighbourhood size on the evolution of two competing species

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Individual-based simulations were conducted to examine the effect of a small ecological neighbourhood (an area in which ecological processes such as density-dependent factors operate) and the genetic neighbourhood size (the size of an area from which the parents may be assumed to be drawn at random) on the coevolution of two competing species. For the simulations, individuals of two consumer species compete for two types of food organisms. Different genotypes (one locus and two alleles) have different efficiencies of food acquisition for different food types. Individual consumer organisms search for food within their home ranges and reproduce depending on the amount of food eaten. The dispersal distance of the offspring follows a normal distribution with a zero mean and σ(d) standard deviation. Simulations were conducted by varying the home range size, mating area (area from where individuals choose their mates), standard deviation of dispersal distance, food generation time, the reproductive rates of food populations and the sizes and number of independent food populations. Food organisms reproduce either within one population or independently within 16 spatially divided populations. For all the simulations, competitive exclusion was the most frequent outcome and character displacement was the least frequent outcome. Through a 200-generation simulation, the two consumer species could co-exist longer and maintain a polymorphic resource use longer when the home range and mating size were small in 16 spatially divided populations than when random mating and homogeneous interaction occurred within a community (perfect mixing population). For perfect mixing populations, the frequency of character displacement increased as the food generation time became short and the reproductive rates of food decreased. It follows from the results that the sizes of the genetic and ecological neighbourhoods and the mode of resource dynamics can affect the evolution of two competing species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-630
Number of pages22
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • co-evolution
  • ecological neighbourhood
  • genetic neighbourhood size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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