Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 769–789 | Cite as

Ecological specialization under multidimensional trade-offs

  • André Amado
  • Paulo R. A. CamposEmail author
Original Paper


Although trade-offs are expected to play an essential role in shaping the diversity in a community, their effects remain relatively nebulous and notoriously difficult to assess. This is especially true when multiple trade-offs of different classes interact, a situation here designated by multidimensional trade-offs. When dealing with single trade-offs, some information can be predicted solely based on their curvature. Does this generalize to when dealing with multidimensional trade-offs? What happens if the trade-offs have opposing curvatures? To address these issues, we develop a resource-based model that encompasses multiple trade-offs mediated by the acquisition and processing of resources. Two distinct classes of trade-offs are assumed: (1) a trade-off among resource uptake rates, (2) a trade-off between the resource uptake rate and yield of the process of conversion of resource into energy. The model considers a spatially structured population of microbial organisms that grow on an arbitrary number of resources. These resources flow into the system at a constant rate and diffuse through the environment. The individuals can adopt a variety of strategies through mutation constrained by trade-offs, which renders the model adaptive. We assess population sizes and levels of ecological specialization. The analysis of the results reveals that when multidimensional trade-offs are considered the classical intuition stemming from single trade-offs does not hold. The outcome can depend significantly not only on the curvature of the trade-offs but also on resource availability.


Evolutionary theory Trade-off Trait Adaptation 



PRAC acknowledges financial support from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) under Projects Nos. 302569/2018-9 and 406594/2018-0. AA has a fellowship from the program PNPD sponsored by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES). The authors declare no conflicts of interest. This manuscript has previously been uploaded as a pre-print in biorXiv 492173;

Supplementary material

10682_2019_10013_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 1394 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Evolutionary Dynamics Lab, Physics DepartmentFederal University of PernambucoRecifeBrazil

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