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Competition for space can drive the evolution of dormancy in a temporally invariant environment


I present a model for the evolution of a seed bank in the absence of externally driven environmental variation. I use Evolutionarily Stable Strategy (ESS) analyses of both analytic and simulation models to assess the conditions under which a dormant genotype can invade and resist invasion. In my models, plant seeds compete through lottery for discrete safe sites holding one individual each. Analyzing the conditions under which a dormant genotype can invade when rare and resist invasion once established, I conclude that dormancy can be an ESS when some fraction of seeds is retained locally, seed bank survival is high, and mortality in the seed bank is low. The advantage of dormancy stems from the ability of dormant seeds to recapture a lost site and the fact that a plant’s offspring are more likely to win the lottery in its own site than in any new site. The advantage of dormancy does not depend on individual fecundity or on low relatedness with the offspring of kin, making this mechanism distinct from earlier models of sib competition.

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