Performance in a novel environment subject to ghost competition

Karen Bisschop*, Frederik Mortier, Dries Bonte, Rampal Etienne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: A central tenet of the evolutionary theory of communities is that competition impacts evolutionary processes such as local adaptation. Species in a community exert a selection pressure on other species and may drive them to extinction. We know, however, very little about the influence of unsuccessful or ghost species on the evolutionary dynamics within the community.

Methods: Here we report the long-term influence of a ghost competitor on the performance of a more successful species using experimental evolution. We transferred the spider mite Tetranychus urticae onto a novel host plant under initial presence or absence of a competing species, the congeneric mite T. ludeni.

Results: The competitor species, T. ludeni, unintentionally went extinct soon after the start of the experiment, but we nevertheless completed the experiment and found that the early competitive pressure of this ghost competitor positively affected the performance (i.e., fecundity) of the surviving species, T. urticae. This effect on T. urticae lasted for at least 25 generations.

Discussion: Our study suggests that early experienced selection pressures can exert a persistent evolutionary signal on species' performance in novel environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8931
Number of pages21
JournalPeerJ
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29-Apr-2020

Keywords

  • Interspecific competition
  • Intraspecific competition
  • Experimental evolution
  • Local adaptation
  • Spider mites
  • Tetranychus urticae
  • HISTORICAL CONTINGENCY
  • RAPID EVOLUTION
  • LOCAL ADAPTATION
  • POPULATION
  • DISPERSAL
  • EXTINCTION
  • RESISTANCE
  • DENSITY
  • COEXISTENCE
  • HERBIVORE

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