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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

Selection acts on traits at both the community level, determining community assembly, and at the population level, determining the outcome of evolution. Selection at both scales combines with phenotypic plasticity to cause shifts in community-level mean trait values (average species trait values weighted by their relative abundance) in response to environmental change. If selection is typically concordant and populations and communities respond in the same direction, then responses to selection within species will amplify shifts in community mean trait values. In contrast, if selection at population and community scales are not correlated or occur in opposite directions, shifts in community mean trait values will be lower than expected based on shifts in species abundances. Plasticity will influence community-level trait values in similar ways: when plastic shifts parallel/oppose selection, community mean trait value changes will be amplified/reduced. Here, we propose to combine the expansive community composition data from LTER experiments with approaches, ideas, and datasets from evolutionary biology to investigate whether plasticity, selection at the population scale, and selection at the community scale are concordant or discordant. Our framework and findings will help predict long-term shifts in the community-level mean trait values that determine ecosystem functions.

Waterson Group Photo

Principal Investigator(s)

Joseph Waterton, Nancy Emery, Jennifer Lau, Ken Whitney

Project Dates

Start: January 1, 2023

End: December 31, 2023



Cynthia Chang
University of Washington, Bothell
Elsa E. Cleland
University of California, San Diego
Nancy Emery
University of Colorado, Boulder
Jonathan Henn
University of Colorado, Boulder
Loralee Larios
University of California, Riverside
Jennifer Lau
Indiana University
Alejandra Martinez Blancas
Michigan State University
Neha Mohanbabu
University of Minnesota
Tom Mozdzer
Bryn Mawr College
Tadeo Ramirez Parada
University of California Santa Barbara
Ingrid Slette
University of California, Santa Barbara
Joseph Waterton
Indiana University
Ken Whitney
University of New Mexico

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