Computational Ecology and Software, 2015, 5(4): 286-298
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Spatial distributions of niche-constructing populations

Xiaozhuo Han1, Yaling Huang1, Cang Hui2,3
1School of Applied Mathematics, Guangdong University of Technology, No.161, Yinglong Road, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510520, China
2Center for Invasion Biology, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Matieland 7602, South Africa
3Mathematical and Physical Biosciences, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Muizenberg 7945, South Africa

Received 25 July 2015;Accepted 3 August 2015;Published online 1 December 2015

Niche construction theory regards organisms not only as the object of natural selection but also an active subject that can change their own selective pressure through eco-evolutionary feedbacks. Through reviewing the existing works on the theoretical models of niche construction, here we present the progress made on how niche construction influences genetic structure of spatially structured populations and the spatial-temporal dynamics of metapopulations, with special focuses on mathematical models and simulation methods. The majority of results confirmed that niche construction can significantly alter the evolutionary trajectories of structured populations. Organism-environmental interactions induced by niche construction can have profound influence on the dynamics, competition and diversity of metapopulations. It can affect fine-scale spatially distribution of species and spatial heterogeneity of the environment. We further propose a few research directions with potentials, such as applying adaptive dynamics or spatial game theory to explore the effect of niche construction on phenotypic evolution and diversification.

Keywords organism-environmental feedback;environmental heterogeneity;individual-based model;diversity.

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