The newest synthesis: understanding the interplay of evolutionary and ecological dynamics

Science. 2011 Jan 28;331(6016):426-9. doi: 10.1126/science.1193954.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Biota*
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem*
  • Selection, Genetic