Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, BIO-PHD (2013)
  • Bachelor of Science, Tsinghua University, Biological Science (2005)
  • Master of Science, Chinese Academy Of Sciences, Ecology (2008)

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Adaptive foraging behaviour of individual pollinators and the coexistence of co-flowering plants PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Song, Z., Feldman, M. W. 2014; 281 (1776)


    Although pollinators can play a central role in determining the structure and stability of plant communities, little is known about how their adaptive foraging behaviours at the individual level, e.g. flower constancy, structure these interactions. Here, we construct a mathematical model that integrates individual adaptive foraging behaviour and population dynamics of a community consisting of two plant species and a pollinator species. We find that adaptive foraging at the individual level, as a complementary mechanism to adaptive foraging at the species level, can further enhance the coexistence of plant species through niche partitioning between conspecific pollinators. The stabilizing effect is stronger than that of unbiased generalists when there is also strong competition between plant species over other resources, but less so than that of multiple specialist species. This suggests that adaptive foraging in mutualistic interactions can have a very different impact on the plant community structure from that in predator-prey interactions. In addition, the adaptive behaviour of individual pollinators may cause a sharp regime shift for invading plant species. These results indicate the importance of integrating individual adaptive behaviour and population dynamics for the conservation of native plant communities.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rspb.2013.2437

    View details for Web of Science ID 000332381500009

    View details for PubMedID 24352943

  • Plant-animal mutualism in biological markets: Evolutionary and ecological dynamics driven by non-heritable phenotypic variance THEORETICAL POPULATION BIOLOGY Song, Z., Feldman, M. W. 2013; 88: 20-30


    Mutualism between plants and animals, such as in pollination and seed dispersal, is a fundamental mechanism facilitating the productivity and biodiversity of ecosystems, and it is often considered as an analog of a free-market economy. The coevolution of plant reward and animal choosiness, however, involves an apparent paradox due to incomplete information and limited mutation rates: plant rewards evolve only when animals are choosy, but choosy animals purge the heritable variations of plants, which then favors less choosy animals. Here we use a two-species mathematical model to illustrate how non-heritable phenotypic variances of plants may facilitate the coevolution of rewards and choosiness and solve the paradox with low mutation rates. We simultaneously track the ecological and evolutionary dynamics and show that the population ratio links the two processes and tunes the stable eco-evolutionary equilibrium. Numerical simulations confirm the analytic prediction with varying mutation rates (heritable variance). The efficiency of a biological market is generally suboptimal due to the information constraint and individual competition.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tpb.2013.06.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000324508700003

    View details for PubMedID 23791699

  • The coevolution of long-term pair bonds and cooperation. Journal of evolutionary biology Song, Z., Feldman, M. W. 2013; 26 (5): 963-970


    The evolution of social traits may not only depend on but also change the social structure of the population. In particular, the evolution of pairwise cooperation, such as biparental care, depends on the pair-matching distribution of the population, and the latter often emerges as a collective outcome of individual pair-bonding traits, which are also under selection. Here, we develop an analytical model and individual-based simulations to study the coevolution of long-term pair bonds and cooperation in parental care, where partners play a Snowdrift game in each breeding season. We illustrate that long-term pair bonds may coevolve with cooperation when bonding cost is below a threshold. As long-term pair bonds lead to assortative interactions through pair-matching dynamics, they may promote the prevalence of cooperation. In addition to the pay-off matrix of a single game, the evolutionarily stable equilibrium also depends on bonding cost and accidental divorce rate, and it is determined by a form of balancing selection because the benefit from pair-bond maintenance diminishes as the frequency of cooperators increases. Our findings highlight the importance of ecological factors affecting social bonding cost and stability in understanding the coevolution of social behaviour and social structures, which may lead to the diversity of biological social systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/jeb.12111

    View details for PubMedID 23496797

  • The role of fairness norms the household-based natural forest conservation: The case of Wolong, China ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS Song, Z., Ouyang, Z., Xu, W. 2012; 84: 164-171