Evolution alters post-invasion temporal dynamics in experimental communities

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The causes and consequences of temporal variation in the abundance of organisms constitute central themes in ecological inquiry. Rapid evolution can occur over ecological time-scales, potentially resulting in altered temporal variation in abundance and complicating inferences about the consequences of temporal variation.We assessed whether evolution altered the temporal variability in species' abundances in simple assemblages of species. We then compared experimental results to predictions from two-species models to better understand our results in the context of competitive and predator–prey interactions.We compared founder populations and their evolved descendants in experimental communities of ciliates and rotifers. Using a series of orthogonal contrasts, we then evaluated whether: (a) evolutionary history of invaders or (b) residents, (c) co-evolution among invaders and residents, and (d) invasion itself altered temporal variability in species abundances following invasion by a novel species. Using two-species competition and predator–prey models, we also generated predictions to better understand the effects of evolution on temporal variation in the abundances of interacting species. Finally, we compared experimental and modelling results to aid in the interpretation of which interspecific interactions might be affected by ongoing evolution in our communities.In experimental populations, differing evolutionary histories resulted in significant differences among treatments in abundances and temporal variation in abundances of both resident and invading species. For the contrasts, we found evidence that evolutionary history of the invader and residents, co-evolution among invaders and residents, and invasion itself affected temporal variability in abundance, but the importance of each differed for the two communities and the species within those communities. When comparing experimental results to model predictions, the increased abundance and decreased temporal variation in one invader, Euplotes daidaleos, are potentially consistent with evolution resulting in reduced attack rates in the novel community.Evolutionary history alone can affect temporal variation in the abundances of species, generating important consequences for interspecific interactions among species and complicating inferences about the consequences of temporal variability in biological communities.

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