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Competition both drives and impedes diversification in a model adaptive radiation


Rainey,  Paul B.
External Scientific Member Group Experimental and Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Bailey, S. F., Dettman, J. R., Rainey, P. B., & Kassen, R. (2013). Competition both drives and impedes diversification in a model adaptive radiation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280(1766): 20131253. doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.1253.

Competitors are known to be important in governing the outcome of evolutionary diversification during an adaptive radiation, but the precise mechanisms by which they exert their effects remain elusive. Using the model adaptive radiation of Pseudomonas fluorescens, we show experimentally that the effect of competition on diversification of a focal lineage depends on both the strength of competition and the ability of the competitors to diversify. We provide evidence that the extent of diversification in the absence of interspecific competitors depends on the strength of resource competition. We also show that the presence of competitors can actually increase diversity by increasing interspecific resource competition. Competitors that themselves are able to diversify prevent diversification of the focal lineage by removing otherwise available ecological opportunities. These results suggest that the progress of an adaptive radiation depends ultimately on the strength of resource competition, an effect that can be exaggerated or impeded by the presence of competitors.