The shape of the competition and carrying capacity kernels affects the likelihood of disruptive selection


Many quantitative genetic and adaptive dynamic models suggest that disruptive selection can maintain genetic polymorphism and be the driving force causing evolutionary divergence. These models also suggest that disruptive selection arises from frequency-dependent intraspecific competition. For convenience or historical precedence, these models assume that carrying capacity and competition functions follow a Gaussian distribution. Here, we propose a new analytical framework that relaxes the assumption of Gaussian competition and carrying capacity functions, and investigate how alternative shapes affect the likelihood of disruptive selection. We found that the shape of both carrying capacity and competition kernels interact to determine the likelihood of disruptive selection. For certain regions of the parametric space disruptive selection is facilitated, whereas for others it becomes more difficult. Our results suggest that the relationship between the degree of frequency dependence and the likelihood of disruptive selection is more complex than previously thought, depending on how resources are distributed and competition interference takes place. It is now important to describe the empirical patterns of resource distribution and competition in nature as a way to determine the likelihood of disruptive selection in natural populations.

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