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From genes to ecosystems: a synthesis across systems and environments

Assoc. Prof Joe Bailey
School of Plant Science
University of Tasmania
School of Plant Science (UTAS) Seminar Series Two
Friday September 24, 2010

Abstract

Growing evidence demonstrates that genetic variation in plant and animal species can subsequently influence associated communities and ecosystem function.  However, relatively little is understood about whether and how evolution may act to change communities and ecosystems.  Across systems we: 1) explore the generality of the extended phenotype in published empirical studies to date; 2) examine how evolution in one species may alter community structure and ecosystem function; 3) link community phenotypes to candidate genes and discuss multiple evolutionary mechanisms that may drive change in community structure and ecosystem function; and 4) examine the dynamic nature of feedbacks and discuss their role in reinforcing evolutionary dynamics and suggest that it is an important frontier for future investigation in community and ecosystem genetics.  This seminar provides a broad conceptual framework for understanding how evolution may impact communities and ecosystems and indicates that, if the evolutionary dynamics in a system change, then the ecological dynamics also likely change (and vice versa) through feedbacks, with consequences that can extend from the phenotype of an individual within a population all the way to associated communities and ecosystem function.

Biobuzz issue twelve, August 2010