The interface between metacommunity ecology and microevolution in freshwater zooplankton

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Title: The interface between metacommunity ecology and microevolution in freshwater zooplankton
Author: Pantel, Jelena Holly
Abstract: In many habitats , species’ traits correspond strongly to local environmental conditions . The cause of this pattern may be in -situ evolution , where initially mal -adapted resident species evolved traits that increased their fitness . Alternatively , species with suitable traits may have colonized the focal habitat and replaced resident species . Since theories in the fields of evolutionary biology and community ecology developed independently , few guidelines tell us when to expect evolutionary adaptation or ecological species replacement as the primary driver of species and trait composition in a given habitat . The goal of my dissertation research was to explain how evolutionary adaptation and ecological species replacement together determine the composition of pond zooplankton communities . I combined theoretical models with thorough surveys of natural pond communities and manipulative experiments . I discovered that one particular zooplankton species , Daphnia pulex , evolved to have different trait values in ponds with different environments . The evolutionary divergence within D . pulex profoundly affected its ecological interactions with other zooplankton species . D . pulex populations diverged from one another so much that they differed in their ability to successfully colonize ponds full of competing zooplankton species . I also used a computer simulation model to determine when a community’s trait changes were explained by evolutionary adaptation or ecological species replacement . The dispersal rate of species among habitats and the amount of genetic variance within these species both influenced adaptive trait change in a community . The group of research studies that indicate evolutionary and ecological processes operate on a similar time scale is small but growing . My dissertation research provides another crucial demonstration that evolution within individual species , such as D . pulex , influences their community ecological interactions with other species . I also identified key parameters (dispersal rate among and genetic variance within species ) that may help biologists predict whether evolution or ecological species replacement explained adaptive trait change . My projects mostly concern the community and trait distributions that result from the assembly of species in new habitats . However , this framework may inform studies of community response to environmental changes such as invasive species or habitat destruction .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2009 -12 -447
Date: 2010-12-01


The interface between metacommunity ecology and microevolution in freshwater zooplankton. Doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2009 -12 -447 .

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