All authors contributed equally toward creating this manuscript.
Testing the ecological consequences of evolutionary change using elements
Article first published online: 15 JAN 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 4, Issue 4, pages 528–538, February 2014
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2014; 4(4):528–538
- Issue published online: 17 FEB 2014
- Article first published online: 15 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 6 DEC 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 2 DEC 2013
- Manuscript Received: 31 JUL 2013
- National Science Foundation. Grant Numbers: 0924401, 1256867, 1121832
- Consumer-driven nutrient recycling;
- eco-evo-eco loop;
- eco-evolutionary dynamics;
- ecological stoichiometry;
- intraspecific variation;
- nutrient excretion;
- phenotypic evolution
Understanding the ecological consequences of evolutionary change is a central challenge in contemporary biology. We propose a framework based on the ~25 elements represented in biology, which can serve as a conduit for a general exploration of poorly understood evolution-to-ecology links. In this framework, known as ecological stoichiometry, the quantity of elements in the inorganic realm is a fundamental environment, while the flow of elements from the abiotic to the biotic realm is due to the action of genomes, with the unused elements excreted back into the inorganic realm affecting ecological processes at higher levels of organization. Ecological stoichiometry purposefully assumes distinct elemental composition of species, enabling powerful predictions about the ecological functions of species. However, this assumption results in a simplified view of the evolutionary mechanisms underlying diversification in the elemental composition of species. Recent research indicates substantial intraspecific variation in elemental composition and associated ecological functions such as nutrient excretion. We posit that attention to intraspecific variation in elemental composition will facilitate a synthesis of stoichiometric information in light of population genetics theory for a rigorous exploration of the ecological consequences of evolutionary change.