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He concluded that r/K theory was a once useful heuristic that no longer serves a purpose in life history theory.More recently, the panarchy theories of adaptive capacity and resilience promoted by C. Holling and Lance Gunderson have revived interest in the theory, and use it as a way of integrating social systems, economics and ecology.In scientific literature, r-selected species are occasionally referred to as "opportunistic" whereas K-selected species are described as "equilibrium".
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Because of their higher reproductive rates and ecological opportunism, primary colonisers typically are r-strategists and they are followed by a succession of increasingly competitive flora and fauna.
The ability of an environment to increase energetic content, through photosynthetic capture of solar energy, increases with the increase in complex biodiversity as r species proliferate to reach a peak possible with K strategies.
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As the name implies, r-selected species are those that emphasize high growth rates, typically exploit less-crowded ecological niches, and produce many offspring, each of which has a relatively low probability of surviving to adulthood (i.e., high r, low K).
A typical r species is the dandelion Taraxacum genus.
The r/K dichotomy can be re-expressed as a continuous spectrum using the economic concept of discounted future returns, with r-selection corresponding to large discount rates and K-selection corresponding to small discount rates.
In areas of major ecological disruption or sterilisation (such as after a major volcanic eruption, as at Krakatoa or Mount Saint Helens), r- and K-strategists play distinct roles in the ecological succession that regenerates the ecosystem.
The distinguishing feature of the r- and K-selection paradigm was the focus on density-dependent selection as the important agent of selection on organisms’ life histories.
This paradigm was challenged as it became clear that other factors, such as age-specific mortality, could provide a more mechanistic causative link between an environment and an optimal life history (Wilbur et al.
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