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Theory-Based EcologyA Darwinian approach$
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Liz Pásztor, Zoltán Botta-Dukát, Gabriella Magyar, Tamás Czárán, and Géza Meszéna

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199577859

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577859.001.0001

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Introduction: Darwinian ecology

Introduction: Darwinian ecology

Chapter:
(p.3) Chapter 1 Introduction: Darwinian ecology
Source:
Theory-Based Ecology
Author(s):

Liz Pásztor

Zoltán Botta-Dukát

Gabriella Magyar

Tamás Czárán

Géza Meszéna

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577859.003.0001

Darwin’s mechanistic explanation for the emergence and maintenance of biological diversity provides the conceptual basis for a self-consistent theory of ecology that relies on a coherent system of seven Darwinian principles. A universal population dynamic concept of fitness connects the principles through robust mathematical relations, enabling the formal treatment of alleles (selfish genes) and the individuals of clones or sexual species within the same logic. The central thesis of the theory is that the inevitable checks on the inherent capacity of life for exponential growth lead either to regulated, robust coexistence or to competitive exclusion among different variants. As fitness is constrained by inescapable trade-offs between its components, the ultimate competitive victory of a perfect organism (‘Darwinian demon’) is impossible and coexistence may follow. Besides basic concepts like dynamical system, state description, fitness, regulation, impact, and sensitivity, the crucial method of timescale separation is also explained and illustrated.

Keywords:   ecological principles, ecological theory, exponential growth, population regulation, competitive exclusion, coexistence, population dynamics, selfish gene, fitness, Darwinian demon

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