Michael Cortez, “The eco-evolutionary dynamics of predator-prey systems: How does (co)evolution alter community level population dynamics?”

Feb 24, 2014 (Mon) | 4:00 PM -6:00 PM
393 Serra Mall, Herrin T-175 : Stanford, CA

Predators and their prey can exhibit cyclic fluctuations over time. Based on experimental and theoretical ecological studies, peaks in prey abundances are expected to precede peaks in predator abundance in predator-prey cycles. However, other kinds of cycles have been observed in predator-prey systems, e.g., cryptic cycles where predator abundance oscillates over time and prey abundance remains effectively constant. This motivates the question, 'why do cycle characteristics differ across systems?' Using theoretical models, I explore and characterize how evolution in prey, predators, or both species can alter cycle characteristics and drive qualitatively different community dynamics. Evolution in one species can drive novel dynamics like cryptic cycles. More interestingly, predator-prey coevolution can effectively reverse the ordering of predator and prey peaks and drive cycles where peaks in prey abundance follow peaks in predator abundance. I revisit empirical phage-bacteria, gyrfalcon-rock ptarmigan, and mink-muskrat time series and show how the cycle characteristics predicted in my theoretical models can be used to identify systems where rapid species evolution and coevolution may have a significant influence on the community dynamics of predator-prey systems.

Department:  Biology

Contact: May Chin | 650-725-1827 | maychin@stanford.edu


  • Michael Cortez Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Biology