The evolutionary palaeoecology of species and the tragedy of the commons
Peter D. Roopnarine1,* and Kenneth D. Angielczyk2
1Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
2Department of Geology, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
*Author for correspondence (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The fossil record presents palaeoecological patterns of rise and fall on multiple scales of time and biological organization. Here, we argue that the rise and fall of species can result from a tragedy of the commons, wherein the pursuit of self-interests by individual agents in a larger interactive system is detrimental to the overall performance or condition of the system. Species evolving within particular communities may conform to this situation, affecting the ecological robustness of their communities. Results from a trophic network model of Permian–Triassic terrestrial communities suggest that community performance on geological timescales may in turn constrain the evolutionary opportunities and histories of the species within them.
tragedy of the commons, complexity, complex adaptive systems, palaeocommunity
One contribution of 12 to a Special Feature on ‘Models in palaeontology’.
Received June 28, 2011.
Accepted August 4, 2011.
This journal is © 2011 The Royal Society