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The ecogenetic link between demography and evolution: can we bridge the gap between theory and data?

Authors

  • Hanna Kokko,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Ecological and Evolutionary Dynamics, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
    2. School of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
      * E-mail: hanna.kokko@helsinki.fi
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  • Andrés López-Sepulcre

    1. Laboratory of Ecological and Evolutionary Dynamics, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
    2. Evolutionary Ecology Unit, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
    3. Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA, USA
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* E-mail: hanna.kokko@helsinki.fi

Abstract

Calls to understand the links between ecology and evolution have been common for decades. Population dynamics, i.e. the demographic changes in populations, arise from life history decisions of individuals and thus are a product of selection, and selection, on the contrary, can be modified by such dynamical properties of the population as density and stability. It follows that generating predictions and testing them correctly requires considering this ecogenetic feedback loop whenever traits have demographic consequences, mediated via density dependence (or frequency dependence). This is not an easy challenge, and arguably theory has advanced at a greater pace than empirical research. However, theory would benefit from more interaction between related fields, as is evident in the many near-synonymous names that the ecogenetic loop has attracted. We also list encouraging examples where empiricists have shown feasible ways of addressing the question, ranging from advanced data analysis to experiments and comparative analyses of phylogenetic data.

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