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Quantifying nonadditive selection caused by indirect ecological effects
In natural biological communities, species interact with many other species. Multiple species interactions can lead to indirect ecological effects that have important fitness consequences and can cause nonadditive patterns of natural selection. Given that indirect ecological effects are common in nature, nonadditive selection may also be quite common. As a result, quantifying nonadditive selection resulting from indirect ecological effects may be critical for understanding adaptation in natural communities composed of many interacting species. We describe how to quantify the relative strength of nonadditive selection resulting from indirect ecological effects compared to the strength of pairwise selection. We develop a clear method for testing for nonadditive selection caused by indirect ecological effects and consider how it might affect adaptation in multispecies communities. We use two case studies to illustrate how our method can be applied to empirical data sets. Our results suggest that nonadditive selection caused by indirect ecological effects may be common in nature. Our hope is that trait-based approaches, combined with multifactorial experiments, will result in more estimates of nonadditive selection that reveal the relative importance of indirect ecological effects for evolution in a community context.