The Newest Synthesis: Understanding the Interplay of Evolutionary and Ecological Dynamics

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Science  28 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6016, pp. 426-429
DOI: 10.1126/science.1193954

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The effect of ecological change on evolution has long been a focus of scientific research. The reverse—how evolutionary dynamics affect ecological traits—has only recently captured our attention, however, with the realization that evolution can occur over ecological time scales. This newly highlighted causal direction and the implied feedback loop—eco-evolutionary dynamics—is invigorating both ecologists and evolutionists and blurring the distinction between them. Despite some recent relevant studies, the importance of the evolution-to-ecology pathway across systems is still unknown. Only an extensive research effort involving multiple experimental approaches—particularly long-term field experiments—over a variety of ecological communities will provide the answer.

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