Models of community assembly have been used to illustrate how the many functionally diverse species that compose plankton food webs can coexist. However, the evolutionary processes leading to the emergence of plankton food webs and their interplay with migratory processes and spatial heterogeneity are yet to be explored. We study the eco-evolutionary dynamics of a modeled plankton community structured in both size and space and physiologically constrained by empirical data. We demonstrate that a complex yet ecologically and evolutionarily stable size-structured food web can emerge from an initial set of two monomorphic phytoplankton and zooplankton populations. We also show that the coupling of spatial heterogeneity and migration results in the emergence of specific biogeographic patterns: (i) the emergence of a source-sink structure of the plankton metacommunities, (ii) changes in size diversity dependent on migratory intensity and on the scale at which diversity is considered (local vs. global), and (iii) the emergence of eco-evolutionary provinces (i.e., a spatial unit characterized by some level of abiotic heterogeneity but of homogenous size composition due to horizontal movements) at spatial scales that increase with the strength of the migratory processes.

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Published in The American Naturalist, v. 190, no. 1.

© 2017 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

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D.C., C.B., B.S., and J.R. received financial support from the French National Research Agency through project ANR-10-BLAN-1709 PHYTBACK. D.C. and C.B. received financial support from the French Government “Investissements d’Avenir” programs MEMO LIFE (ANR-10-LABX-54) and PSL Research University (ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02). C.B. received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Award “Diatomite,” the Louis D Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

56791apa.pdf (526 kB)
Appendix A: The Ecological Model

56791apb.pdf (4812 kB)
Appendix B: The Numerical Scheme