ESR14 – Models of eco-evolutionary dynamics of population interaction networks

ESR14: Models of eco-evolutionary dynamics of population interaction networks

Recruiting beneficiary: University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic 


Internal supervisors: Prof. V. Křivan, Assoc. Prof. L. Berec


Brief project description: This project focuses on integrating ecological models at behavioural, population, and evolutionary time scales. The ESR will integrate predator / parasitoid / pathogen and prey / host behaviours with their population dynamics, pollinator preferences for plants with plant-pollinator dynamics, and more generally, dynamics of interaction networks. S/he will use continuous models either in homogeneous or heterogeneous space. Alternatively, agent-based simulations that allow for heterogeneity in a range of individual characteristics (phenotype, spatial location, age, etc.) will be used. S/he will couple these models with either adaptive dynamics or real-time eco-evolutionary dynamics.

In this project, we will identify key questions in the area of stability analysis in evolutionary games and build on the existing techniques from bifurcation theory, critical transitions theory, and network science to develop a new mathematical framework to study instabilities in evolutionary games. The focus will be on stability criteria for Nash and Stackelberg equilibria, and on critical transitions (tipping points) that are triggered by changing external conditions. The methods developed will be applied to identify:

  • Optimal strategies in cancer treatment
  • Critical factors for “failure to adapt” to changing environment (e.g. climate) in ecosystems


Updates: My first project aims to investigate the conditions under which diversification can happen in a plant-pollinator community, assuming both plant and pollinator species have a pollination trait that evolves. To do that, we used Darwinian Dynamics and the G-function approach. We found that species diversification is favoured by broad plant niches, suggesting that bottom-up trophic control leads to codiversification. Our results also suggest that mutualistic generalism, i.e., tolerance of trait differences, promotes plant speciation but is unfavourable for pollinator speciation, which could be related to the competitive exclusion principle.


Selected contributions:

Marcou, T. (2022, August 14-19). Speciation in plant-pollinator community [Poster]. ESACSEE2022, Montreal, Canada. 


Marcou, T. (2023, June 19-23). Modeling evolutionary diversification of plant-pollinator trophic networks [Talk]. 12th Colloquium on the Qualitative Theory of Differential Equations. Szeged, Hungary.