199
views
0
recommends
+1 Recommend
0 collections
    0
    shares
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: not found

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

      Read this article at

      ScienceOpenPublisherPubMed
      Bookmark
          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.

          Abstract

          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.

          Related collections

          Author and article information

          Journal
          Am Nat
          The American naturalist
          University of Chicago Press
          0003-0147
          0003-0147
          Jan 2003
          : 161
          : 1
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Section of Evolution and Ecology, Center for Population Biology, Storer Hall, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA. dibolnick@ucdavis.edu
          Article
          AN010277
          10.1086/343878
          12650459
          499b15cf-5bb5-4c2a-8f61-a32b529ad6eb
          History

          Comments

          Comment on this article