Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Auditorium, Rm 3, Minneapolis Convention Center
The goal of this symposium is to bring together a group of top ecologists and evolutionary biologists whose research programs all explore how evolutionary history, and the phylogenetic relationships among species, can be used to predict the ecosystem-level impacts of biodiversity loss.
We now know that species diversity exerts control over important ecosystem-level processes like biomass production, resource acquisition and nutrient cycling. We are also beginning to understand the mechanisms by which species diversity can impact ecosystem functioning: dominance of productive species, facilitation, and niche complementarity. These mechanisms all ultimately depend species' traits which are shaped by their evolutionary history. What is yet to be determined is how the tempo and mode of evolution affect the species traits responsible for coexistence and ecosystem functioning. This symposium will address three questions about how evolutionary relationships among species give rise to biological traits that control ecosystem-level functioning: 1) Are the biological traits that ultimately control community composition and ecosystem functioning evolutionarily labile or conserved? (2) How does the strength of the phylogenetic signal of ecological traits relate to the process by which evolution proceeded (i.e. natural selection, sexual selection or drift)? For example, are more distantly related species equally likely to coexist and overyield regardless of whether they evolved by drift or adaptive radiation? (3) If ecologically relevant traits are conserved, how distantly related do species in an assemblage need to be before they maximize ecosystem functioning?