Evolution in population dynamics

Peter Turchin
Nature July 17, 2003 Journal Link PDF


In their study of predator–prey cycles, investigators have assumed that they do not need to worry about evolution. The discovery of population cycles driven by evolutionary factors will change that view. Ecologists studying population dynamics prefer not to bother with the possibility of evolutionary change affecting their study organisms. This is sensible, because understanding the results of interactions between, for example, populations of predators and prey is already a complicated task. Making the assumption that evolutionary processes are too slow on ecological scales greatly eases the task of modelling the commonly observed population oscillations. But an elegant study by Yoshida et al.1 (page 303 of this issue) decisively demonstrates that this simplification might no longer be tenable.
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