Evolution of diversity in metabolic strategies

  1. Rodrigo Caetano  Is a corresponding author
  2. Yaroslav Ispolatov
  3. Michael Doebeli
  1. Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil
  2. Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Chile
  3. University of British Columbia, Canada


Understanding the origin and maintenance of biodiversity is a fundamental problem. Many theoretical approaches have been investigating ecological interactions, such as competition, as potential drivers of diversification. Classical consumer-resource models predict that the number of coexisting species should not exceed the number of distinct resources, a phenomenon known as the competitive exclusion principle. It has recently been argued that including physiological tradeoffs in consumer-resource models can lead to violations of this principle and to ecological coexistence of very high numbers of species. Here we show that these results crucially depend on the functional form of the tradeoff. We investigate the evolutionary dynamics of resource use constrained by tradeoffs and show that if the tradeoffs are non-linear, the system either does not diversify, or diversifies into a number of coexisting species that does not exceed the number of resources. In particular, very high diversity can only be observed for linear tradeoffs.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are obtained through the codes which have been deposited in https://github.com/jaros007/Codes_for_Evolution_of_diversity_in_metabolic_strategies

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Rodrigo Caetano

    Departamento de Física, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2837-113X
  2. Yaroslav Ispolatov

    Departamento de Fisica, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Santiago, Chile
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-0201-3396
  3. Michael Doebeli

    Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
    Competing interests
    Michael Doebeli, Reviewing Editor, eLife.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-5975-5710


The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Wenying Shou, University College London, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Preprint posted: October 21, 2020 (view preprint)
  2. Received: February 22, 2021
  3. Accepted: August 5, 2021
  4. Accepted Manuscript published: August 5, 2021 (version 1)
  5. Version of Record published: September 9, 2021 (version 2)


© 2021, Caetano et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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  1. Rodrigo Caetano
  2. Yaroslav Ispolatov
  3. Michael Doebeli
Evolution of diversity in metabolic strategies
eLife 10:e67764.

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