Article: article from journal or magazin.
Influence of learning on range expansion and adaptation to novel habitats.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Learning has been postulated to 'drive' evolution, but its influence on adaptive evolution in heterogeneous environments has not been formally examined. We used a spatially explicit individual-based model to study the effect of learning on the expansion and adaptation of a species to a novel habitat. Fitness was mediated by a behavioural trait (resource preference), which in turn was determined by both the genotype and learning. Our findings indicate that learning substantially increases the range of parameters under which the species expands and adapts to the novel habitat, particularly if the two habitats are separated by a sharp ecotone (rather than a gradient). However, for a broad range of parameters, learning reduces the degree of genetically-based local adaptation following the expansion and facilitates maintenance of genetic variation within local populations. Thus, in heterogeneous environments learning may facilitate evolutionary range expansions and maintenance of the potential of local populations to respond to subsequent environmental changes.
Adaptation, Physiological, Animals, Ecosystem, Evolution, Genetic Variation, Genotype, Homing Behavior, Learning, Models, Theoretical, Population Dynamics
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