Resurrecting the ghost of competition past with dormant zooplankton eggs

Christopher F. Steiner, Carla E. Cáceres, Sigrid D.P. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A common prediction of evolutionary theory is that the strength of interspecific competition should decline over time among sympatric populations of competing species. Here we provide experimental evidence of historical declines in competition effects among competing Zooplankton populations. Using diapausing eggs, we resurrected clones of three species of Zooplankton obtained from different periods of community assembly in a single lake. We show that clones of Daphnia ambigua obtained from early in assembly when D. ambigua was dominant became extinct in competition with clones of Daphnia pulicaria and Daphnia dentifera (the current lake dominants). In contrast, D. ambigua clones obtained from later in the lake's history experienced weaker competition effects and persisted with D. dentifera. While we cannot rule out the role of intraspecific competition within D. ambigua, our results are in line with the view that natural selection favors reduced interaction strength among co-occurring species, facilitating coexistence and population persistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-422
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Community assembly
  • Competition
  • Daphnia
  • Evolution
  • Resurrection ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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