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Information use shapes the dynamics of range expansions into environmental gradients


Fronhofer, Emanuel A; Nitsche, Nikolai; Altermatt, Florian (2017). Information use shapes the dynamics of range expansions into environmental gradients. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 26(4):400-411.

Abstract

Aim: Globally, the geographical distributions of species are dynamic and strongly influenced by dispersal. At the same time, range dynamics feed back and may select for increased dispersal at expanding range fronts. This interplay between macroecological and evolutionary dynamics happens almost universally across environmental gradients and such gradients can have a direct impact on the fitness of organisms due to the match or mismatch between an individual’s environmental optimum and the current conditions along the gradient. Importantly, gradients also provide individuals with information on environmental changes because dispersing individuals may sense whether environmental conditions improve or deteriorate. However, the ability of organisms to use this information on the environment and to subsequently adjust dispersal decisions plastically, that is, deciding to further disperse into the gradient or not, has been largely ignored and the macroecological consequences remain unclear. We here aim to demonstrate the impact of informed dispersal on the eco-evolutionary dynamics of ranges.
Location: Laboratory and theoretical.
Methods: We used individual-based simulations and controlled experiments in replicated microcosm landscapes. Range expansions of the protist model organism Tetrahymena were tracked using video recording and analysis.
Results: We show that information on environmental gradients had a severe impact on range dynamics and inverted the spatial distribution of population densities in comparison with controls where this information was not provided. Additionally, the use of information on gradients prevented evolutionary changes in dispersal rates and an acceleration of range expansion.
Main conclusions: We demonstrate the strong impact of informed dispersal and subsequent behavioural changes on range dynamics in environmental gradients. More generally, our findings highlight the importance of informed dispersal for spatial ecological and evolutionary dynamics.

Abstract

Aim: Globally, the geographical distributions of species are dynamic and strongly influenced by dispersal. At the same time, range dynamics feed back and may select for increased dispersal at expanding range fronts. This interplay between macroecological and evolutionary dynamics happens almost universally across environmental gradients and such gradients can have a direct impact on the fitness of organisms due to the match or mismatch between an individual’s environmental optimum and the current conditions along the gradient. Importantly, gradients also provide individuals with information on environmental changes because dispersing individuals may sense whether environmental conditions improve or deteriorate. However, the ability of organisms to use this information on the environment and to subsequently adjust dispersal decisions plastically, that is, deciding to further disperse into the gradient or not, has been largely ignored and the macroecological consequences remain unclear. We here aim to demonstrate the impact of informed dispersal on the eco-evolutionary dynamics of ranges.
Location: Laboratory and theoretical.
Methods: We used individual-based simulations and controlled experiments in replicated microcosm landscapes. Range expansions of the protist model organism Tetrahymena were tracked using video recording and analysis.
Results: We show that information on environmental gradients had a severe impact on range dynamics and inverted the spatial distribution of population densities in comparison with controls where this information was not provided. Additionally, the use of information on gradients prevented evolutionary changes in dispersal rates and an acceleration of range expansion.
Main conclusions: We demonstrate the strong impact of informed dispersal and subsequent behavioural changes on range dynamics in environmental gradients. More generally, our findings highlight the importance of informed dispersal for spatial ecological and evolutionary dynamics.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:biological invasion, dispersal, environmental gradient, experimental evolu- tion, information use, range expansion
Language:English
Date:15 March 2017
Deposited On:11 Sep 2017 15:09
Last Modified:12 Sep 2017 07:58
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1466-822X
Funders:Funding is from Eawag (to E.A.F.), and the Swiss National Science Foundation, grant no. PP00P3_150698 (to F.A.).
Additional Information:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fronhofer, E. A., Nitsche, N. and Altermatt, F. (2017), Information use shapes the dynamics of range expansions into environmental gradients. Global Ecol. Biogeogr., 26: 400–411. which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geb.12547/full
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12547

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