Saitanis C.J., and Agathokleous E.
Science of the Total Environment, 682, pp. 623-628
Publication year: 2019


Hormesis is a fundamental notion in ecotoxicology while competition between organisms is an essential notion in population ecology and species adaptation and evolution. Both sub-disciplines of ecology deal with the response of organisms to abiotic and biotic stresses. In ecotoxicology, the Linear-non-Threshold (LNT), Threshold and Hormetic models are used to describe the dominant responses of a plethora of endpoints to abiotic stress. In population ecology, the logistic, theta-logistic and the Allee effect models are used to describe the growth of populations under different responses to (biotic) stress induced by population density. The per capita rate of population increase (r) measures species fitness. When it is used as endpoint, the responses to population density seem to perfectly correspond to LNT, Threshold and Hormetic responses to abiotic stress, respectively. Our analysis suggests the Allee effect is a hormetic-like response of r to population density, an ultimate biotic stress. This biphasic dose-response model appears across different systems and situations (from molecules to tumor growth to population dynamics), is highly supported by ecological and evolutionary theory, and has important implications in most sub-disciplines of biology as well as in environmental and earth sciences. Joined multi-disciplinary efforts would facilitate the development and application of advanced research approaches for better understanding potential planetary-scale implications.

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