Feedbacks link ecosystem ecology and evolution across spatial and temporal scales: Empirical evidence and future directions

Ian M. Ware, Connor R. Fitzpatrick , Athmanathan Senthilnathan , Shannon L.J. Bayliss, Kendall K. Beals , Liam O. Mueller , Jennifer L. Summers, Rachel C. Wooliver, Michael E. Van Nuland , Michael T. Kinnison , Eric P. Palkovacs, Jennifer A. Schweitzer and Joseph K. Bailey


Ware - 00518Unifying ecosystem ecology and evolutionary biology promises a more complete understanding of the processes that link different levels of biological organization across space and time. Feedbacks among populations, communities, and ecosystems link concepts and theory associated with the interplay between ecological and evolutionary processes.

We put forth a conceptual model showing how feedback among different levels of biological organization can link ecosystem and evolutionary processes over space and time. We provide empirical examples across terrestrial and aquatic systems that indicate broad generality of the conceptual framework and discuss its evolutionary consequences. Our conceptual model is based on three premises: i) genetically-based species interactions can vary spatially and temporally in strength and reciprocity and drive evolutionary change; ii) this evolutionary change can create differences in how species interactions influence ecosystem function; and lastly, iii) such ecosystem-level effects can reinforce spatiotemporal variation in evolutionary dynamics. In other words, just as evolution can alter ecosystem function locally and across the landscape differently, ecosystems can drive evolution locally and across the landscape differently.

By highlighting how ecological change shapes evolutionary change, and vice versa, we provide a foundation to further understand the interplay between biodiversity and ecosystem function. Ultimately, viewing these interactions through an evolutionary lens across landscapes will aid in efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of global change.


Read the paper in full here.

This paper is part of the cross-journal Special Feature: EcoEvolutionary Dynamics Across Scales.

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