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      The keystone individual concept: an ecological and evolutionary overview

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      Animal Behaviour
      Elsevier BV

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          The ecology of individuals: incidence and implications of individual specialization.

          Most empirical and theoretical studies of resource use and population dynamics treat conspecific individuals as ecologically equivalent. This simplification is only justified if interindividual niche variation is rare, weak, or has a trivial effect on ecological processes. This article reviews the incidence, degree, causes, and implications of individual-level niche variation to challenge these simplifications. Evidence for individual specialization is available for 93 species distributed across a broad range of taxonomic groups. Although few studies have quantified the degree to which individuals are specialized relative to their population, between-individual variation can sometimes comprise the majority of the population's niche width. The degree of individual specialization varies widely among species and among populations, reflecting a diverse array of physiological, behavioral, and ecological mechanisms that can generate intrapopulation variation. Finally, individual specialization has potentially important ecological, evolutionary, and conservation implications. Theory suggests that niche variation facilitates frequency-dependent interactions that can profoundly affect the population's stability, the amount of intraspecific competition, fitness-function shapes, and the population's capacity to diversify and speciate rapidly. Our collection of case studies suggests that individual specialization is a widespread but underappreciated phenomenon that poses many important but unanswered questions.
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            Challenges in the Quest for Keystones

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              Animal personalities: consequences for ecology and evolution.

              Personality differences are a widespread phenomenon throughout the animal kingdom. Past research has focused on the characterization of such differences and a quest for their proximate and ultimate causation. However, the consequences of these differences for ecology and evolution received much less attention. Here, we strive to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive inventory of the potential implications of personality differences, ranging from population growth and persistence to species interactions and community dynamics, and covering issues such as social evolution, the speed of evolution, evolvability, and speciation. The emerging picture strongly suggests that personality differences matter for ecological and evolutionary processes (and their interaction) and, thus, should be considered a key dimension of ecologically and evolutionarily relevant intraspecific variation. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Animal Behaviour
                Animal Behaviour
                Elsevier BV
                00033472
                March 2014
                March 2014
                : 89
                :
                : 53-62
                Article
                10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.12.020
                0ef323c9-2d46-4eb1-8742-d58c33d14e31
                © 2014
                History

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