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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Jonathan Drury

Grether, G.F., Drury, J.P., Okamoto, K., McEachin, S. & Anderson, C. (2020). Predicting evolutionary responses to interspecific interference in the wild. Ecology Letters 23(2): 221-230.

Author(s) from Durham


Many interspecifically territorial species interfere with each other reproductively, and in some cases, aggression toward heterospecifics may be an adaptive response to interspecific mate competition. This hypothesis was recently formalized in an agonistic character displacement (ACD) model which predicts that species should evolve to defend territories against heterospecific rivals above a threshold level of reproductive interference. To test this prediction, we parameterized the model with field estimates of reproductive interference for 32 sympatric damselfly populations and ran evolutionary simulations. Asymmetries in reproductive interference made the outcome inherently unpredictable in some cases, but 80% of the model’s stable outcomes matched levels of heterospecific aggression in the field, significantly exceeding chance expectations. In addition to bolstering the evidence for ACD, this paper introduces a new, predictive approach to testing character displacement theory that, if applied to other systems, could help resolve longstanding questions about the importance of character displacement processes in nature.