Ecological and evolutionary traps

Trends in Ecology and Evolution
By: , and 



Organisms often rely on environmental cues to make behavioral and life-history decisions. However, in environments that have been altered suddenly by humans, formerly reliable cues might no longer be associated with adaptive outcomes. In such cases, organisms can become 'trapped' by their evolutionary responses to the cues and experience reduced survival or reproduction. Ecological traps occur when organisms make poor habitat choices based on cues that correlated formerly with habitat quality. Ecological traps are part of a broader phenomenon, evolutionary traps, involving a dissociation between cues that organisms use to make any behavioral or life-history decision and outcomes normally associated with that decision. A trap can lead to extinction if a population falls below a critical size threshold before adaptation to the novel environment occurs. Conservation and management protocols must be designed in light of, rather than in spite of, the behavioral mechanisms and evolutionary history of populations and species to avoid 'trapping' them.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Ecological and evolutionary traps
Series title Trends in Ecology and Evolution
DOI 10.1016/S0169-5347(02)02580-6
Volume 17
Issue 10
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 474-480
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Trends in Ecology and Evolution
First page 474
Last page 480
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