Individual-level niche specialization within populations: emerging areas of study
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Charles Darwin would likely question the novelty of a special section on intraspecific variation 156 years after publication of On the Origin of Species. Not only was phenotypic variation fundamental to the theory of evolution by natural selection, Darwin argued it was a challenge in classifying individuals to particular species. He wrote in chapter 2: “… but I could show by a long catalogue of facts, that parts which must be called important, whether viewed under a physiological or classificatory point of view, sometimes vary in the individuals of the same species. I am convinced that the most experienced naturalist would be surprised at the number of the cases of variability, even in important parts of structure…” (Darwin 1859).
Yet during the historical development of many sub-disciplines in the ecological sciences, inter-individual differences were typically subsumed to coarser levels of classification. In community ecology, species served as the nodes in food web...
KeywordsDiet Variation Individual Specialization Resource Category Eurasian Perch Ecological Opportunity
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