The presence and strength of resource competition can influence how organisms adaptively respond to environmental change. Selection may thus reflect a balance between two forces, adaptation to an environmental optimum and evolution to avoid strong competition. While this phenomenon has previously been explored in the context of single communities, its implications for eco-evolutionary dynamics at the metacommunity scale are largely unknown. We developed a simulation model for the evolution of a quantitative trait that influences both an organism’s carrying capacity and its intra- and interspecific competitive ability. In the model, multiple species inhabit a three-patch landscape, and we investigated the effect of varying the connectivity level among patches, the presence and pace of directional environmental change, and the strength of competition between the species. Our model produced some patterns previously observed in evolving metacommunity models, such as species sorting and community monopolization. However, we found that species sorting was diminished even at low rates of dispersal and was influenced by competition strength, and that monopolization was observed only when environmental change was very rapid. We also detected an eco-evolutionary feedback loop between local phenotypic evolution at one site and competition at another site, which maintains species diversity in some conditions. The existence of a feedback loop maintained by dispersal indicates that eco-evolutionary dynamics in communities operate at a landscape scale.
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