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Evolution of nutrient acquisition: when adaptation fills the gap between contrasting ecological theories.

Abstract : Although plant strategies for acquiring nutrients have been widely studied from a functional point of view, their evolution is still not well understood. In this study, we investigate the evolutionary dynamics of these strategies and determine how they influence ecosystem properties. To do so, we use a simple nutrient-limited ecosystem model in which plant ability to take up nutrients is subject to adaptive dynamics. We postulate the existence of a trade-off between this ability and mortality. We show that contrasting strategies are possible as evolutionary outcomes, depending on the shape of the trade-off and, when nitrogen is considered as the limiting nutrient, on the intensity of symbiotic fixation. Our model enables us to bridge these evolutionary outcomes to classical ecological theories such as Hardin's tragedy of the commons and Tilman's rule of R*. Evolution does not systematically maximize plant biomass or primary productivity. On the other hand, each evolutionary outcome leads to a decrease in the availability of the limiting mineral nutrient, supporting the work of Tilman on competition between plants for a single resource. Our model shows that evolution can be used to link different classical ecological results and that adaptation may influence ecosystem properties in contrasted ways.
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Contributor : Simon Boudsocq <>
Submitted on : Monday, October 11, 2010 - 2:07:54 PM
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Simon Boudsocq, Sébastien Barot, Nicolas Loeuille. Evolution of nutrient acquisition: when adaptation fills the gap between contrasting ecological theories.. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2010, 278 (1704), 10.1098/rspb.2010.1167. ⟨10.1098/rspb.2010.1167⟩. ⟨bioemco-00525226⟩



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