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Inter-individual variation promotes ecological success of populations and species: evidence from experimental and comparative studies
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9598-7618
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.
2016 (English)In: Ecography, ISSN 0906-7590, E-ISSN 1600-0587, Vol. 39, no 7, p. 630-648Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Biological diversity is threatened by exploitation, fragmentation of natural habitats, pollution, climatechange, and anthropogenic spread of species. The question of how among-individual variation influencesthe performance of populations and species is a poorly explored but currently growing field of research.Here, we review 31 experimental and 14 comparative studies and first investigate whether there is empiricalsupport for the propositions that higher levels of among-individual phenotypic and genetic variationpromote the ecological and evolutionary success of populations and species in the face of environmentalchange. Next, we examine whether and how the effect of diversity depends on environmental conditions.Finally, we explore whether the relationship linking population fitness to diversity is typically linear,asymptotic, or whether the benefits peak at intermediate diversity. The reviewed studies provide strong,almost invariable, evidence that more variable populations are less vulnerable to environmental changes,show decreased fluctuations in population size, have superior establishment success, larger distributionranges, and are less extinction prone, compared with less variable populations or species. Given theoverwhelming evidence that variation promotes population performance, it is important to identifyconditions when increased variation does not have the theoretically expected effect, a question ofconsiderable importance in biodiversity management, where there are many other practical constraints. Wefind that experimental outcomes generally support the notion that genetic and phenotypic variation is ofgreater importance under more stressful than under benign conditions. Finally, population performanceincreased linearly with increasing diversity in the majority (10 of 12) of manipulation studies that includedfour or more diversity levels; only two experiments detected curvilinear relationships.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 39, no 7, p. 630-648
National Category
Evolutionary Biology Ecology
Research subject
Ecology, Evolutionary Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-45647DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01357ISI: 000379904700003Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84945143735OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-45647DiVA, id: diva2:844944
Available from: 2015-08-10 Created: 2015-08-10 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved

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Forsman, AndersWennersten, Lena

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