Individual-based eco-evolutionary framework: towards unifying ecology and evolution

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Jan Hrcek


Evolution is increasingly found to be rapid and entangled with ecological processes in complex eco-evolutionary dynamics, calling for a common conceptual framework. Yet, ecological and evolutionary theory remain largely separated, which constrains the development of integrative research. To overcome this separation, I argue for treating the entangled dynamics as a single eco-evolutionary process rather than as separate ecological and evolutionary processes connected by feedbacks. I propose a unified conceptual framework that integrates ecological and evolutionary processes at population and community levels by considering which of them result from the same individual-based process. The resulting framework is a means to understand the entangled dynamics through the interaction of five basic eco-evolutionary processes: natural selection, drift, dispersal, gene transfer, and mutation. The framework allows systematic comparison of all ecological, evolutionary and eco-evolutionary theories and models. It provides simple means to discuss complex dynamics, and promotes a holistic approach to major topics including diversity, stability, and stochasticity. The framework thus presents a step towards conceptually uniting ecology and evolutionary biology.



Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences


Community, conceptual framework, eco-evolutionary dynamics, ecology, evolutionary biology, individual, organismal biology, population, rapid evolution


Published: 2022-09-28 13:20

Last Updated: 2022-11-30 13:11

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