Eco-evolutionary feedback - theoretical models and perspectives.
Eco-evolutionary dynamics emerge when evolution of traits is fast enough to alter ecological processes. While this field that links Ecology and Evolution is gaining momentum from an experimental perspective, the theoretical basis takes its roots in several decades of research. Here, in an article led by Lynn Govaert (now Post-doc at EAWAG) and Emanuel Fronhofer (CNRS Montpellier) we review the theoretical basis of eco-evolutionary dynamics and elaborate on the different approaches available to address specific questions. This article published in Functional Ecology will be part of the Special Feature of the British Ecological Society on Eco-evo dynamics that we edit as a result of the symposium organized on this topic for ESEB 2017.
Theoretical models pertaining to feedbacks between ecological and evolutionary processes are prevalent in multiple biological fields. An integrative overview is currently lacking, due to little crosstalk between the fields and the use of different methodological approaches. Here, we review a wide range of models of eco‐evolutionary feedbacks and highlight their underlying assumptions. We discuss models where feedbacks occur both within and between hierarchical levels of ecosystems, including populations, communities, and abiotic environments, and consider feedbacks across spatial scales. Identifying the commonalities among feedback models, and the underlying assumptions, helps us better understand the mechanistic basis of eco‐evolutionary feedbacks. Eco‐evolutionary feedbacks can be readily modelled by coupling demographic and evolutionary formalisms. We provide an overview of these approaches and suggest future integrative modelling avenues. Our overview highlights that eco‐evolutionary feedbacks have been incorporated in theoretical work for nearly a century. Yet, this work does not always include the notion of rapid evolution or concurrent ecological and evolutionary time scales. We show the importance of density‐ and frequency-dependent selection for feedbacks, as well as the importance of dispersal as a central linking trait between ecology and evolution in a spatial context.