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Newly rare or newly common: evolutionary feedbacks through changes in population density and relative species abundance, and their management implications.


Environmental management typically seeks to increase or maintain the population sizes of desirable species and to decrease population sizes of undesirable pests, pathogens, or invaders. With changes in population size come long-recognized changes in ecological processes that act in a density-dependent fashion. While the ecological effects of density dependence have been well studied, the evolutionary effects of changes in population size, via changes in ecological interactions with community members, are underappreciated. Here, we provide examples of changing selective pressures on, or evolution in, species as a result of changes in either density of conspecifics or changes in the frequency of heterospecific versus conspecific interactions. We also discuss the management implications of such evolutionary responses in species that have experienced rapid increases or decreases in density caused by human actions.

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