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Preprints, Working Papers, ... Year : 2021

Implications of Drift and Rapid Evolution on Negative Niche Construction


Abstract Organisms throughout their lives constantly modify their surrounding environment; such activities are often termed niche construction. An important property of niche construction is that its consequences can persist for a long period of time and several subsequent generations can be affected. This phenomenon is described as a time lag in niche construction, or ecological inheritance. Studies have suggested that time lag in niche construction can help avoiding the tragedy of the commons. In other words, it can lead to evolution of contribution to a common good, which is associated with positive niche construction, or to the limitation of a common bad, which is associated with negative niche construction. In this article, we will study the evolutionary consequences of incorporating time lags in a negative niche construction process: waste production. We consider a population that extrudes waste into its environment as it consumes resources to grow and reproduce. Higher consumption rates can lead to higher waste production. Individuals that adopt this selfish strategy are expected to be selected as toxic effects are equally shared among all individuals. We show that indeed this tragedy of the commons persists in many cases and selfish strategies evolve in general. When evolution is rapid and intragenerational time lag is incorporated, however, selfish strategies are no longer favoured and strategies resulting in less waste production can be selected. Importantly, heavy pollution results in smaller population sizes, so that drift becomes more important than natural selection and limits the evolution of higher waste production.

Dates and versions

hal-03990266 , version 1 (15-02-2023)



Phuong Linh Nguyen, Manon Costa, Nicolas Loeuille. Implications of Drift and Rapid Evolution on Negative Niche Construction. 2023. ⟨hal-03990266⟩
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