Adaptive Radiation from Resource Competition in Digital Organisms

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Science  02 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5680, pp. 84-86
DOI: 10.1126/science.1096307

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Species richness often peaks at intermediate productivity and decreases as resources become more or less abundant. The mechanisms that produce this pattern are not completely known, but several previous studies have suggested environmental heterogeneity as a cause. In experiments with evolving digital organisms and populations of fixed size, maximum species richness emerges at intermediate productivity, even in a spatially homogeneous environment, owing to frequency-dependent selection to exploit an influx of mixed resources. A diverse pool of limiting resources is sufficient to cause adaptive radiation, which is manifest by the origin and maintenance of phenotypically and phylogenetically distinct groups of organisms.

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