Nav: Home

A new appreciation of the ecology-evolution dynamic

January 28, 2011

Ecology drives evolution. In today's issue of the journal Science, UC Davis expert Thomas Schoener describes growing evidence that the reverse is also true, and explores what that might mean to our understanding of how environmental change affects species and vice-versa.

A classic example of ecology influencing evolution is seen in a Galápagos ground finch, Geospiza fortis. In this species, larger beaks dominated the population after dry years when large seeds were more abundant. After wet years, the direction of natural selection reversed, favoring smaller beaks that better handled the small seeds produced in the wet environment.

Environmental factors had given birds with certain genes a survival advantage.

But does evolution affect ecology over similar time scales? Scientists are increasingly thinking that the answer is yes, says Schoener, who points toward numerous examples of organisms evolving rapidly. This sets the stage for the possibility that evolutionary dynamics routinely interact with ecological dynamics.

Schoener writes: "If ecology affects evolution (long supported) and evolution affects ecology (becoming increasingly supported), then what? The transformed ecology might affect evolution, and so on, back and forth in a feedback loop."

Still to be discovered in this emerging field of "eco-evolutionary dynamics," he concludes, is just how much evolutionary changes substantially affect ecological traits such as species populations and community structure. Schoener calls for a major research effort to find out.

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

In an unusual occurrence, Schoener is a co-author of a second paper in the same issue of Science. His former doctoral student, Jonah Piovia-Scott, is that paper's lead author.
-end-
Media contacts:

Thomas Schoener, Department of Evolution and Ecology, (530) 752-8319, twschoener@ucdavis.edu
Sylvia Wright, News Service, (530) 752-7704, swright@ucdavis.edu

University of California - Davis

Related Species Articles:

Two new species of orchids discovered in Okinawa
Two new species of parasitic plants have been discovered on the main island of Okinawa, Japan, and named Gastrodia nipponicoides and Gastrodia okinawensis.
Cornering endangered species
Geographic areas occupied by certain species shrink as they decline in abundance, leaving them more vulnerable to extinction by harvest.
New species of Brazilian copepod suggests ancient species diversification and distribution
A new species and genus of a tiny freshwater copepod has been found in the Brazilian rocky savannas, an ecosystem under heavy anthropogenic pressure.
Redefining 'species'
What is a species? Biologists -- and ornithologists in particular -- have been debating the best definition for a very long time.
New species discovered in Antarctica
A team of Japanese scientists has discovered a new species of polychaete, a type of marine annelid worm, 9-meters deep underwater near Japan's Syowa Station in Antarctica, providing a good opportunity to study how animals adapt to extreme environments.
Genomic tools for species discovery inflate estimates of species numbers, U-Michigan biologists contend
Increasingly popular techniques that infer species boundaries in animals and plants solely by analyzing genetic differences are flawed and can lead to inflated diversity estimates, according to a new study from two University of Michigan evolutionary biologists.
Common US snake actually 3 different species
New research reveals that a snake found across a huge swath of the Eastern United States is actually three different species.
The origins of Cuban species
An international research team suggests the endangered Cuban solenodon evolved after the extinction of dinosaurs.
New rare species of whale identified
Researchers have identified a new rare species of beaked whale with a range in the remote North Pacific Ocean.
Unusual new zoantharian species is the first described solitary species in over 100 years
A very unusual new species of zoantharian was discovered by two researchers in Okinawa.

Related Species Reading:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
by Yuval Noah Harari (Author)

New York Times Bestseller

A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the... View Details


The Runaway Species: How human creativity remakes the world
by David Eagleman (Author), Anthony Brandt (Author)

“The authors look at art and science together to examine how innovations―from Picasso’s initially offensive paintings to Steve Jobs’s startling iPhone―build on what already exists and rely on three brain operations: bending, breaking and blending. This manifesto . . . shows how both disciplines foster creativity.” ―The Wall Street Journal

The Runaway Species approach[es] creativity scientifically but sensitively, feeling its roots without pulling them out.” ―The Economist


The Runaway Species is a deep dive into the... View Details


The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition
by Charles Darwin (Author), Julian Huxley (Introduction)

The classic that exploded into public controversy, revolutionized the course of science, and continues to transform our views of the world.



View Details


The Lost Species: Great Expeditions in the Collections of Natural History Museums
by Christopher Kemp (Author)

View Details


The Female of the Species
by Mindy McGinnis (Author)

2017 Tayshas List Selection * YALSA Top 10 Best YA Fiction of 2017 * School Libray Journal Best of 2016 * Junior Library Guild Selection * The Globe and Mail Best Books of 2016 * Bustle’s Best Young Adult Books of 2016 * Mashable’s 8 Best YA Books of 2016 * Seventeen's 10 Best YA Books of 2016 * CCBC Choices 2017 * 2018-2019 Louisiana Readers' Choice Award Nominee

Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a relentless and riveting contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture through alternating... View Details


Species with Amnesia: Our Forgotten History
by Robert Sepehr (Author)

Highly advanced civilizations have been here before us, just to be destroyed by some great global catastrophe. But for each race that has died out, another has taken its place, with a selected few holding on to the memories and sacred knowledge of the past race. In our vanity we think we have discovered some of the great truths of science and technology, but we are in fact only just beginning to rediscover the profound wisdom of past civilizations. In many ways, we are like an awakening Species with Amnesia, yearning to reclaim our forgotten past. View Details


From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin's Four Great Books (Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals)
by Charles Darwin (Author), Edward O. Wilson (Editor)

Hailed as "superior" by Nature, this landmark volume is  available in a collectible, boxed edition.

Never before have the four great works of Charles Darwin―Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle (1845), The Origin of Species (1859), The Descent of Man (1871), and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)―been collected under one cover. Undertaking this challenging endeavor 123 years after Darwin's death, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson has written an introductory essay for the occasion, while providing... View Details


On the Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Charles Darwin (Author)

"The Origin is one of the most important books ever published, and a knowledge of it should be a part of the intellectual equipment of every educated person. . . . The book will endure in future ages so long as a knowledge of science persists among mankind." — Nature
It took Charles Darwin more than twenty years to publish this book, in part because he realized that it would ignite a firestorm of controversy. On the Origin of Species first appeared in 1859, and it remains a continuing source of conflict to this day. Even among those who reject its ideas,... View Details


Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (Penguin Classics)
by Georges Perec (Author), John Sturrock (Editor), John Sturrock (Editor), John Sturrock (Editor)

“One of the most significant literary personalities in the world.”—Italo Calvino
 
Georges Perec, author of the highly acclaimed Life: A User’s Manual, was only forty-six when he died in 1982. Despite a tragic childhood, during which his mother was deported to Auschwitz, Perec produced some of the most entertaining essays of the age. His literary output was deliberately varied in form and style and this generous selection of Perec’s non-fictional work, the first to appear in English, demonstrates his characteristic lightness of touch, wry humor, and accessibility.... View Details


Killer Species #1: Menace From the Deep
by Michael P. Spradlin (Author)

A brand-new action-packed series from Michael P. Spradlin. Each book covers a genetically engineered super predator wreaking havoc on the environment.

Emmet Doyle is not in the best mood when he arrives in Florida City. His father is a wildlife biologist, and has been summoned to the Everglades, dragging Emmet along with him. Though still in mourning from losing his mom a year ago, Emmet's trying hard to keep a good attitude.

Upon their arrival, however, things quickly get weird. Dr. Rosalita Geaux, the Park Superintendent, wastes no time in revealing the reason she called... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Turning Kids Into Grown-Ups
Parenting is fraught with uncertainty, changing with each generation. This hour, TED speakers share ideas about raising kids and how — despite our best efforts — we're probably still doing it wrong. Guests include former Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims, former firefighter Caroline Paul, author Peggy Orenstein, psychologist Dr. Aala El-Khani, and poet Sarah Kay.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#470 Information Spookyhighway
This week we take a closer look at a few of the downsides of the modern internet, and some of the security and privacy challenges that are becoming increasingly troublesome. Rachelle Saunders speaks with cyber security expert James Lyne about how modern hacking differs from the hacks of old, and how an internet without national boards makes it tricky to police online crime across jurisdictions. And Bethany Brookshire speaks with David Garcia, a computer scientist at the Complexity Science Hub and the Medical University of Vienna, about the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, and how social media platforms put a wrench...