The development of theory on density-dependent natural selection has seen a transition from very general, logistic growth-based models to theories that incorporate details of specific life histories. This transition has been justified by the need to make predictions that can then be tested experimentally with specific model systems like bacteria or . The most general models predict that natural selection should increase density-dependent rates of population growth. When trade-offs exist, those genotypes favored in low-density environments will show reduced per capita growth rates under crowded conditions and vice versa for evolution in crowded environments. This central prediction has been verified twice in carefully controlled experiments with . Empirical research in this field has also witnessed a major transition from field-based observations and conjecture to carefully controlled laboratory selection experiments. This change in approach has permitted crucial tests of theories of density-dependent natural selection and a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of adaptation to different levels of population crowding. Experimental research with has identified several phenotypes important to adaptation, especially at high larval densities. This same research revealed that an important trade-off occurs between competitive ability and energetic efficiency.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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