Virtual Issue: Ecology in an Evolving World – The dawn of Evolutionary Ecology

Ecologists and evolutionary biologists for many decades happily coexisted largely ignoring each other. This separation was clearest in theory where ecological models assumed fixed, constant parameters, so evolution could not occur, and population genetics models assumed fixed selection coefficients which summarised all underlying ecological process that influence fitness. To an extent this reflected the obvious fact that ecological and evolutionary process occurred on very different time scales – ecology fast, evolution slow.

This has now changed and a large amount of theory now looks at evolutionary dynamics in ecologically realistic models. This led to the idea that evolution need not be slow, and could in fact influence ecological dynamics – the so-called eco-evolutionary feedback. This change in mindset has been accompanied by rapid advances in techniques which now allow high throughput sequencing of species or indeed individuals undergoing ecological interactions – this combined with the “omics” revolution is transforming ecology. This is the dawn of Evolutionary Ecology where ecology and evolution are studied on an equal footing.

In this virtual issue we showcase studies illustrating how diverse studies in Evolutionary Ecology are, and also launch a new Evolutionary Ecology section in Journal of Ecology.

Mark Rees, Senior Editor



Ecological interactions and coexistence are predicted by gene expression similarity in freshwater green algae, Narwani et al.

Neighbourhood defence gene similarity effects on tree performance: a community transcriptomic approach, Zambrano et al.

Rapid transgenerational effects in Knautia arvensis in response to plant community diversity, Rottstock et al.

Genotypic diversity mitigates negative effects of density on plant performance: a field experiment and life cycle analysis of common evening primrose Oenothera biennis, Cook-Patton et al.

Phylogenetic relatedness, phenotypic similarity and plant-soil feedbacks, Fitzpatrick et al.

A global test for phylogenetic signal in shifts in flowering time under climate change, Rafferty et al.

The role of habitat filtering in the leaf economics spectrum and plant susceptibility to pathogen infection, Welsh et al.

Co-fruiting plant species share similar fruit and seed traits while phylogenetic patterns vary through time, Razafindratsima et al.

Phylogenetic and functional mechanisms of direct and indirect interactions among alien and native plants, Feng et al.

Herbivore release drives parallel patterns of evolutionary divergence in invasive plant phenotypes, Uesugi et al.

Ecologically diverse and distinct neighbourhoods trigger persistent phenotypic consequences, and amine metabolic profiling detects them, Hennion et al.

Variation and macroevolution in leaf functional traits in the Hawaiian silversword alliance (Asteraceae), Blonder et al.

Nonlinear costs of reproduction in a long-lived plant, Sletvold et al.

Lifehistory evolution under climate change and its influence on the population dynamics of a long-lived plant, Williams et al.

Avoiding the crowds: the evolution of plastic responses to seasonal cues in a density-dependent world, Metcalf et al.

Range expansion in asexual dandelions: selection for general-purpose genotypes?, Oplaat et al.

Ecological and evolutionary lability of plant traits affecting carbon and nutrient cycling, Donovan et al.

The influence of phylogenetic relatedness on species interactions among freshwater green algae in a mesocosm experiment, Venail et al.

Parasites exert conflicting selection pressures to affect reproductive asynchrony of their host plant in an obligate pollination mutualism, Krishnan et al.


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