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Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics: The Dawning of a New Reality

Paper Reviewed
De Meester, L. and Pantel, J. 2014. Eco-evolutionary dynamics in freshwater systems. Journal of Limnology 73: 193-200.

In an intriguing article published in the Journal of Limnology, De Meester and Pantel (2014) write that "growing evidence suggests that ecological and evolutionary dynamics can occur at the same temporal and spatial scales," citing Hendry and Kinnison (1999) and Hairston et al. (2005). And they say this implies "there is potential for a wide range of interactions between ecological and evolutionary processes," additionally citing Thompson (2005) and Schoener (2011), while noting that "evolutionary change may potentially influence population (Pelletier et al., 2009), community (Urban et al., 2008) and ecosystem dynamics (Fussmann et al., 2007; Matthews et al., 2011), but warning that "ignoring these interactions can distort our predictions of biological responses to human impact," additionally pointing us towards the studies of Olsen et al. (2004), Cheptou et al. (2008), De Meester et al. (2011) and Urban et al. (2012).

In further commentary on the subject, the two Belgian researchers state that "eco-evolutionary dynamics can explain substantial portions of biological systems that the study of ecology or evolution in isolation cannot," and they note that "this increased understanding has important practical benefits, for instance in predicting changes in community and ecosystem properties or responses to anthropogenic environmental change."

Summing things up near the end of their discussion of eco-evolutionary dynamics, De Meester and Pantel say "the overall message from this brief account is that there is ample evidence for evolutionary changes occurring in the same time span as ecological change and that the potential of these evolutionary changes to feedback on the dynamics and nature of ecological processes is substantial," as we can also attest to be the case, having reviewed for our website a host of such studies that provide incontrovertible evidence for this association in real-world situations dealing with both anthropogenic-induced changes in climate and ocean acidification.

Cheptou, P.O., Carrue, O., Rouifed, S. and Cantarel, A. 2008. Rapid evolution of seed dispersal in an urban environment in the weed Crepis saneta. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105: 3796-3799.

DeMeester, L., Van Doorslaer, W., Geerts, A., Orsini, L. and Stoks, R. 2011. Thermal genetic adaptation in the water flea daphnia and its impact: an evolving meta-community approach. Integrative & Comparative Biology 51: 703-718.

Fussmann, G.F., Loreau, M. and Abrams, P.A. 2007. Eco-evolutionary dynamics of communities and ecosystems. Functional Ecology 21: 465-477.

Hairston, N.G., Ellner, S.P., Geber, M.A., Yoshida, T. and Fox, J.A. 2005. Rapid evolution and the convergence of ecological and evolutionary time. Ecology Letters 8: 1114-1127.

Hendry, A.P. and Kinnison, M.T. 1999. Perspective: the pace of modern life: measuring rates of contemporary microevolution. Evolution 53: 1637-1653.

Matthews, B., Narwani, A., Hausch, S., Nonaka, E., Peter, H., Yamamichi, M., Sullam, K.E., Bird, K.C., Thomas, M.K., Hanley, T.C. and Turner, C.B. 2011. Toward an integration of evolutionary biology and ecosystem science. Ecology Letters 14: 690-701.

Olsen, E.M., Heino, M., Lilly, G.R., Morgan, M.J., Brattey, J., Ernande, B. and Dieckmann, U. 2004. Maturation trends indicative of rapid evolution preceded the collapse of northern cod. Nature 428: 932-935.

Pelletier, F., Garant, D. and Hendry, A.P. 2009. Eco-evolutionary dynamics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 364: 1483-1489.

Schoener, T.W. 2011. The newest synthesis: understanding the interplay of evolutionary and ecological dynamics. Science 331: 426-429.

Thompson, J.N. 2005. The Geographic Mosaic of Coevolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 400 pp.

Urban, M.C., De Meester, L., Vellend, M., Stoks, R. and Vanoverbeke, J. 2012. A crucial step toward realism: responses to climate change from an evolving meta-community perspective. Evolutionary Applications 5: 154-167.

Urban, M.C., Leibold, M.A., Amarasekare, P., De Meester, L., Gomulkiewicz, R., Hochberg, M.E., Klausmeier, C.A., Loeuille, N., de Mazancourt, C., Norberg, J., Pantel,J.H., Strauss,S.Y., Vellend, M. and Wade, M.J. 2008. The evolutionary ecology of meta-communities. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23: 311-317.

Posted 1 December 2014