Working Group 2

Evolutionary Diversification and Functioning of Communities and Ecosystems

The recent recognition that evolutionary and ecological processes can interact on contemporary time scales presents new challenges in the search to understand connections between biodiversity, community structure, and ecosystem function. In particular, two long‐held assumptions are due for re‐evaluation. First, a traditional assumption in ecology has been that genetic relatedness is a reliable predictor of ecological function. In other words, the more distantly related are two forms (genotypes or species), the more likely their ecological function will be different. In contrast, we now know that evolutionary changes occurring over contemporary time scales, or associated with recent speciation events, can have significant impacts on communities and ecosystems. Second, a prevailing assumption in evolutionary biology has been that adaptive diversification proceeds only until the initially available niches are filled. However, this perspective ignores the potential for organisms to shape their own environments and thereby alter the available niches. Indeed, recent work suggests that ecological changes resulting from contemporary evolution have the potential to change selective environments, shape evolution, and contribute to adaptive diversification. To confront the above challenges, this QCBS working group is addressing the following questions:
1) how does evolutionary diversification shape the structure of communities and the functioning of ecosystems?
2) how do such ecological effects, in particular niche creation, influence the process of adaptive diversification?

Members

Andrew Hendry (McGill University), Beatrix Beisner (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)), Jonathan Davies (McGill University), Claire de Mazancourt (McGill University), Dany Garant (Université de Sherbrooke), Andrew Gonzalez (McGill University), Hans Larsson (McGill University), Fanie Pelletier (Université de Sherbrooke), Eric Palkovacs (Duke University, USA), David Post (Yale University, USA),