Biologists are often confronted with high levels of unexplained variation when studying the processes that determine genetic and species diversity. Here, we argue that eco-evolutionary interactions might often play an important role during colonization and have longstanding effects on populations and communities. Adaptation following colonization can produce a strong positive feedback loop that promotes priority effects and context-dependent trajectories of population or species assembly. We establish how monopolization, and more generally evolution-mediated priority effects, influence ecological patterns at multiple scales of space, time, and biological organization. We then highlight the underappreciated implications for our understanding of population and landscape genetics, adaptive evolution, community diversity, biogeography, and conservation biology. We indicate multiple future directions for research, including extending theory beyond competition.
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