Evolution, the loss of diversity and the role of trade-offs

Alex Best*, Roger Bowers, Andrew White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


We investigate how the loss of previously evolved diversity in host resistance to disease is dependent on the complexity of the underlying evolutionary trade-off. Working within the adaptive dynamics framework, using graphical tools (pairwise invasion plots, PIPs; trait evolution plots, TEPs) and algebraic analysis we consider polynomial trade-offs of increasing degree. Our focus is on the evolutionary trajectory of the dimorphic population after it has been attracted to an evolutionary branching point. We show that for sufficiently complex trade-offs (here, polynomials of degree three or higher) the resulting invasion boundaries can form closed 'oval' areas of invadability and strategy coexistence. If no attracting singular strategies exist within this region, then the population is destined to evolve outside of the region of coexistence, resulting in the loss of one strain. In particular, the loss of diversity in this model always occurs in such a way that the remaining strain is not attracted back to the branching point but to an extreme of the trade-off, meaning the diversity is lost forever. We also show similar results for a non-polynomial but complex trade-off, and for a different eco-evolutionary model. Our work further highlights the importance of trade-offs to evolutionary behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-93
Number of pages8
JournalMathematical Biosciences
Issue number1
Early online date31 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Adaptive dynamics
  • Host resistance
  • Life-history evolution
  • Trade-offs
  • Trait extinction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Medicine


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