Funded Grants

Contemporary rapid evolution in complex ecological communities

Ecological and evolutionary processes have long been viewed as occurring on radically different time scales, with ecological responses presumed to take place so much more quickly than the pace of evolutionary change that interaction between the two processes need not be considered. But the last three decades have seen a compelling accumulation of studies demonstrating that evolutionary change in organisms' traits often takes place "rapidly": at the same time and pace as ecological dynamics. Species as diverse as single-celled algae, annual plants, birds, fishes, crustaceans, insects, and bighorn sheep have been found to undergo evolutionary changes in traits that adapt them to their environments, when those environments change or when the species invades a new habitat. The prevalence of contemporaneous evolutionary and ecological change raises the question that our research will address: if traits evolve that influence the strength and nature of the interactions between species, how does this affect the temporal dynamics of species