Ecological and evolutionary dynamics of interconnectedness and modularity
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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In this contribution, we develop a theoretical framework for linking microprocesses (i.e., population dynamics and evolution through natural selection) with macrophenomena (such as interconnectedness and modularity within an ecological system). This is achieved by developing a measure of interconnectedness for population distributions defined on a trait space (generalizing the notion of modularity on graphs), in combination with an evolution equation for the population distribution. With this contribution, we provide a platform for understanding under what environmental, ecological, and evolutionary conditions ecosystems evolve toward being more or less modular. A major contribution of this work is that we are able to decompose the overall driver of changes at the macro level (such as interconnectedness) into three components: (i) ecologically driven change, (ii) evolutionarily driven change, and (iii) environmentally driven change.