The evolutionary ecology of interactive synchronism
The illusion of the optimal phenotype
European Journal of Ecology, 2017, 3(2), 107-115.
Authors discuss some ecological-evolutionary strategies that allow synchronization of organisms, resources, and conditions. Survival and reproduction require synchronization of life cycles of organisms with favourable environmental and ecological features and conditions. This interactive synchronization can occur directly, through pairwise or diffuse co-evolution, or indirectly, for example, as a result of actions of ecosystem engineers and facilitator species. Observations of specific interactions, especially those which have coevolved, may give the false impression that evolution results in optimal genotypes or phenotypes.
However, some phenotypes may arise under evolutionary constraints, such as simultaneous evolution of multiple traits, lack of a chain of fit transitional forms leading to an optimal phenotype, or by limits inherent in the process of selection, set by the number of selective deaths and by interference between linked variants. Although there are no optimal phenotypes, optimization models applied to particular species may be useful for a better understanding of the nature of adaptations.
The evolution of adaptive strategies results in variable life histories. These strategies can minimize adverse impacts on the fitness of extreme or severe environmental conditions on survival and reproduction, and may include reproductive strategies such as semelparity and iteroparity, or morphological, physiological, or behavioural traits such as diapause, seasonal polyphenism, migration, or bet-hedging. However, natural selection cannot indefinitely maintain intra-population variation, and lack of variation can ultimately extinguish populations.
Martins, R., Tidon, R. & Diniz-Filho, J. (2017). The evolutionary ecology of interactive synchronism: the illusion of the optimal phenotype. European Journal of Ecology, 3(2), pp. 107-115. doi:10.1515/eje-2017-0018
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