Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases LaboratoryTitle: Assessing the evolutionary persistence of ecological relationships: a review and preview
Submitted to: Infection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/22/2020
Publication Date: 7/1/2020
Citation: Hecht, L.B., Thompson, P.C., Rosenthal, B.M. 2020. Assessing the evolutionary persistence of ecological relationships: a review and preview. Infection, Genetics and Evolution. 84(1-11). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2020.104441.
Interpretive Summary: Many biological disciplines are interested in how species interact with their environment and one another. While some (e.g. ecologists) focus on understanding the world as it exists, others (e.g. evolutionary biologists) attempt to determine the processes by which it has come into being. One important piece of information for connecting the two perspectives is the duration of any particular species-pair association as it would inform questions of adaptability, resilience, susceptibility, and ecosystem health among others. To intuit origins of evolutionary interactions, there have been rare opportunities to examine direct evidence (for example, fossilized species interactions) or and indirect inferences from studies of co-phylogeny spanning millions of years. These types of studies have little power to examine those species interactions that have begun more recently. In an effort to bridge the gap between extant and ancient associations, new methods are needed to interrogate important associations that have happened in the interim. Here, we review a new approach that asks a simple, but powerful question: for how long have pairs of species jointly thrived and suffered? By comparing reconstructed histories of population growth and decline, “comparative demography” provides a rich, heretofore untapped reservoir of information forging a link between ecology, epidemiology, and evolutionary biology. Here, we describe how to do so, discussing case examples, and suggest future directions for this newfound approach, in hopes of inspiring interest, imitators, and critics.
Technical Abstract: N/A