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Eco‐evolutionary processes underlying early warning signals of population declines


Baruah, Gaurav; Clements, Christopher F; Ozgul, Arpat (2020). Eco‐evolutionary processes underlying early warning signals of population declines. Journal of Animal Ecology, 89(2):436-448.

Abstract

Environmental change can impact the stability of ecological systems and cause rapid declines in populations. Abundance‐based early warning signals have been shown to precede such declines, but detection prior to wild population collapses has had limited success, leading to the development of warning signals based on shifts in distribution of fitness‐related traits such as body size.
The dynamics of population abundances and traits in response to external environmental perturbations are controlled by a range of underlying factors such as reproductive rate, genetic variation and plasticity. However, it remains unknown how such ecological and evolutionary factors affect the stability landscape of populations and the detectability of abundance and trait‐based early warning signals.
Here, we apply a trait‐based demographic approach and investigate both trait and population dynamics in response to gradual and increasing changes in the environment. We explore a range of ecological and evolutionary constraints under which stability of a population may be affected.
We show both analytically and with simulations that strength of abundance‐ and trait‐based warning signals are affected by ecological and evolutionary factors.
Finally, we show that combining trait‐ and abundance‐based information improves our ability to predict population declines. Our study suggests that the inclusion of trait dynamic information alongside generic warning signals should provide more accurate forecasts of the future state of biological systems.

Abstract

Environmental change can impact the stability of ecological systems and cause rapid declines in populations. Abundance‐based early warning signals have been shown to precede such declines, but detection prior to wild population collapses has had limited success, leading to the development of warning signals based on shifts in distribution of fitness‐related traits such as body size.
The dynamics of population abundances and traits in response to external environmental perturbations are controlled by a range of underlying factors such as reproductive rate, genetic variation and plasticity. However, it remains unknown how such ecological and evolutionary factors affect the stability landscape of populations and the detectability of abundance and trait‐based early warning signals.
Here, we apply a trait‐based demographic approach and investigate both trait and population dynamics in response to gradual and increasing changes in the environment. We explore a range of ecological and evolutionary constraints under which stability of a population may be affected.
We show both analytically and with simulations that strength of abundance‐ and trait‐based warning signals are affected by ecological and evolutionary factors.
Finally, we show that combining trait‐ and abundance‐based information improves our ability to predict population declines. Our study suggests that the inclusion of trait dynamic information alongside generic warning signals should provide more accurate forecasts of the future state of biological systems.

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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)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 February 2020
Deposited On:17 Feb 2021 14:52
Last Modified:18 Feb 2021 21:00
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0021-8790
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13097
Project Information:
  • : FunderFP7
  • : Grant ID337785
  • : Project TitleSPREC - Demographic and Phenotypic Signals of Population Responses to Environmental Change
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_146445
  • : Project TitleDemographic and Phenotypic Signals of Population Responses to Environmental Change

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