"A cautionary tale of woe and intrigue in explaining species diversity"
Spectacular levels of species diversity exemplify most biological communities: plankton in freshwater and marine systems, beetles in a tree, plants in tropical forests or grasslands, and microbes in the human gut. What allows so many ecologically similar species to locally coexist? Progress into this vexing problem has primarily focused on identifying ecological differences among species that could promote coexistence. However, missing are critical tests determining whether or not ecological differences among species do indeed promote coexistence via their effects on population regulation. Likewise, the role of evolution in shaping the ability for species to coexist via its demographic effects is often missing. Yet, evolution is relentless. I’ll explore these ideas using a diverse assemblage of aquatic insect predators – damselflies, which are a close relative of dragonflies. The work will reveal some of the complexities and joys of studying species diversity from ecological and evolutionary perspectives. Given the importance of biodiversity, understanding how diversity is maintained remains and will remain an important and active area of study in the biological sciences.
Friday, September 22, 2017 at 1:10pm
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