Structured landscapes promote persistence by favouring prudent predators
AbstractEvolution can lead to unexpected results. One such case is adaptive
decline where, for example, a predator evolves to over-exploit its prey,
resulting in population decline and possibly extinction. Using
simulation models we explore how the tendency for predators to evolve
over-exploitation of prey in simple, well-mixed populations changes as
more landscape structure is added. We find that as the landscape becomes
more structured, either through increasing the number of interconnected
patches or decreasing the connectivity between existing patches, the
amount of adaptive decline seen in the predator population decreases.
This means that as the landscape becomes more complex, predator
populations do not decline as much while the rate of predation evolves.
This is analogous the evolution of virulence and cooperation, where
spatial structure facilitates lower virulence and higher cooperation,