David Reznick , UC Riverside
Date: April 12, 2012
Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Marcus NanoTechnology Building- 345 Ferst Drive, Room 1116-1118
Title: Experimental Studies of the Interaction between Ecology and Evolution in a Natural Ecosystem
Abstract: Our traditional perspective of the relationship between ecology and evolution is that ecology drives evolution. The environment defines a template and evolution by natural selection shapes the organism to fit that template. At the same time, the perspective is that evolution is so much slower than ecology that we can model ecological processes in a fashion that implicitly assumes that evolution does not occur; organisms are treated as constants. A different perspective that has emerged from some theory and laboratory studies, with limited support from nature, is that ecology and evolution are interacting processes that can reciprocally shape one another. I am my colleagues are evaluating this proposition as part of a multidisciplinary study of guppies on the island of Trinidad. Our work was inspired first by the observation that evolutionary interactions happen on time frames comparable to ecological interactions, which makes it more plausible that the two processes can interact. We were also inspired by the role that phenomena like density regulation or the indirect effects of predators appear to have played in shaping some aspects of guppy evolution. Our argument is that “density regulation” and “indirect effects of predators” are actually black boxes created by evolutionary biologists. These labels acknowledge how a process of interest is influenced by other ecological factors without attempting to name or characterize what those factors might be. Our current research includes replicate introduction experiments, modeled on those of the past, in which we are integrating ecosystems ecology with evolutionary biology in an attempt to characterize the mechanisms that underlie these labels. Our work also includes replicate, factorial experiments performed in artificial streams and the development of novel, adaptive dynamic theory that defines the consequences of the integration of evolutionary and ecological processes.
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