Mathematical Dances with Wolves

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Science  02 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1214-1215
DOI: 10.1126/science.1214845

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In the movie Dances with Wolves, a lone wolf facilitates Lieutenant John Dunbar's immersion into the complex culture of the Sioux Indians. This immersion required overcoming multiple cultural barriers. Ecologists and evolutionary biologists face an equally daunting challenge of understanding how environmental change affects ecological and evolutionary dynamics (1). Historically, researchers examined these impacts in isolation. However, these dynamics can occur on similar time scales, resulting in a dynamic evolutionary-ecological feedback loop (2). Studying these feedbacks directly for longlived species is often thought to be impractical. On page 1275 of this issue, Coulson et al. (3) overcome this barrier using data from radio-collared gray wolves and state-of-theart mathematical models.