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Evolution of population dynamics following invasion by a non-native predator
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  • Sigurd Einum,
  • Emil Ullern,
  • Matthew Walsh,
  • Tim Burton
Sigurd Einum
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
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Emil Ullern
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
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Matthew Walsh
University of Texas at Arlington
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Tim Burton
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
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Abstract

Invasive predatory species are frequently observed to cause evolutionary responses in prey phenotypes, which in turn may translate into evolution of the prey’s population dynamics. Research has provided a link between rates of predation and the evolution of prey population growth in the lab, but studies from natural populations are rare. Here we tested for evolutionary changes in population dynamics parameters of zooplankton Daphnia pulicaria following invasion by the predator Bythotrephes longimanus into Lake Kegonsa, Wisconsin, US. We used a resurrection ecological approach, whereby clones from pre- and post-invasive periods were hatched from eggs obtained in sediment cores and were used in a 3-month growth experiment. Based on these data we estimated intrinsic population growth rates (r) and carrying capacities (K) using theta-logistic models. We found that post-invasion Daphnia maintained a higher r and K under these controlled, predation-free laboratory conditions. Thus, whereas previous experimental evolution studies of predator-prey interactions have demonstrated that genotypes that have evolved under predation have inferior competitive ability when the predator is absent, this was not the case for the Daphnia. Given that our study was conducted in a laboratory environment and the possibility for genotype-by-environment interactions, extrapolating these apparent counterintuitive results to the wild should be done with caution. However, barring such complications, we discuss how selection for reduced predator exposure, either temporally or spatially, may have led to the observed changes. This scenario suggests that complexities in ecological interactions represents a challenge when predicting the evolutionary responses of population dynamics to changes in predation pressure in natural systems.
21 Jun 2022Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
21 Jun 2022Assigned to Editor
21 Jun 2022Submission Checks Completed
28 Jun 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 Jul 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
28 Jul 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor