Rodrigues, L.R., Duncan, A.B., Clemente, S.H., Moya-Laraño, J. & Magalhães, S. (2016) Integrating competition for food, hosts, or mates via experimental evolution.Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 31(2), 158-170. DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2015.12.011 (IF2015 16,735; Q1 Evolutionary Biology)
Competitive interactions shape the evolution of organisms. However, often it is not clear whether competition is the driving force behind the patterns observed. The recent use of experimental evolution in competitive environments can help establish such causality. Unfortunately, this literature is scattered, as competition for food, mates, and hosts are subject areas that belong to different research fields. Here, we group these bodies of literature, extract common processes and patterns concerning the role of competition in shaping evolutionary trajectories, and suggest perspectives stemming from an integrative view of competition across these research fields. This review reinstates the power of experimental evolution in addressing the evolutionary consequences of competition, but highlights potential pitfalls in the design of such experiments.