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

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Schoener TW (2011) The newest synthesis: ..

Schoener, T. W. (2011). The newest synthesis: understanding the interplay of evolutionary and ecological dynamics. Science, 331, 426-429. In this conceptual review,

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

Schoener, T. W. 2011. The newest synthesis: understanding the interplay of evolutionary and ecological dynamics. Science 331.6016: 426–429. DOI:

titled "The Newest Synthesis: ..

Schoener TW (2011) The newest synthesis: Understanding the …

The study, titled "The Newest Synthesis: Understanding the Interplay of Evolutionary and Ecological Dynamics," was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

The effect of ecological change on evolution has been a standard scientific theme for many years, but the reverse—how evolutionary dynamics affect ecological traits such as population growth rate—has only recently begun to take hold with the increasing realization that evolution can occur over ecological time scales. This newly highlighted causal direction and the feedback loop that is then implied—eco-evolutionary dynamics—has invigorated both ecologists and evolutionists and is contributing toward blurring the distinction between them. The logic of the eco-evolutionary-dynamics movement and the resulting research program is as follows. First, many studies have shown that ecological change affects evolution; indeed, natural selection is where ecology and evolution meet, and observations of this process are observations of “evolution in action.” Second, evolution can be fast, since by definition observations of evolution in action are of very fast evolution. Third, the reverse is also possible: evolutionary dynamics can affect ecology—because evolution can be so fast, ecological time and evolutionary time can be commensurate. Indeed, natural selection and population dynamics are both affected by births and deaths of individuals so are tightly related. Fourth, the view of evolution as ponderous and frequently unidirectional is now replaced with a new view: episodes of one-way directional evolutionary selection are interspersed with episodes of stasis or even episodes of selection in the other direction, giving a dynamic interplay between evolution and ecology over real time—the eco-evolutionary feedback. Fifth, there are few empirical examples, however, of evolutionary dynamics affecting ecological dynamics. Those that do exist are either laboratory experiments with small, often even micro-organisms, or field observations of long-term processes. In particular, almost no field-experimental demonstrations of eco-evolutionary dynamics have been successfully carried out so far, yet only they can settle the question of whether the evolution-to-ecology pathway is frequent and strong enough to be important in nature. A current top research priority is performing multigenerational field experiments on eco-evolutionary dynamics. I thank Jonathan Losos and David Reznick for comments on aspects of this article, and the US National Science Foundation for support.

W (2011) The newest synthesis: understanding the …

The newest synthesis: ..

IMAGE: Thomas Schoener's paper in the Jan. 28 issue of is based on his talk, "The Newest Synthesis: Evolution + Ecology = EvoEco, " at the Darwin/Chicago 2009 conference. Darwin conference...

Schoener, T. W. (2011). The newest synthesis: understanding the interplay of evolutionary and ecological dynamics. Science, 331, 426-429.

Schoener, T.W. (2011). The newest synthesis: Understanding the interplay of evolu-tionary and ecological dynamics. Science 331 (6016), 426-429. Tarantola, A. (2006).
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In this conceptual review, Schoener provides an introduction to the field of eco-evolutionary dynamics, which studies the reciprocal relationship between ecology and evolution. Historically, ecologists and evolutionary biologists have considered ecology and evolution as separate but related processes that operate on two separate time scales; the fast process (ecology) is observable, and changes in ecology affect the slow process (evolution). In contrast, eco-evolutionary dynamics considers that feedbacks may exist in both directions, in other words that ecology may be driven by evolution as well as vice versa. Introducing this simple two-directional link between ecology and evolution provides a new (complicating) angle for models and conception of ecology, since previous models could assume separation of time scales of the two processes without considering feedbacks between them.

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