The Evolutionary Strategies That Shape Ecosystems

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  • Edition: 7th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-04-30
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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In 1837 a young Charles Darwin took his notebook, wrote "I think" and then sketched a rudimentary, stick-like tree. Each branch of Darwins tree of life told a story of survival and adaptation - adaptation of animals and plants not just to the environment but also to life with other living things. However, more than 150 years since Darwin published his singular idea of natural selection, the science of ecology has yet to account for how contrasting evolutionary outcomes affect the ability of organisms to coexist in communities and to regulate ecosystem functioning. In this book Philip Grime and Simon Pierce explain how evidence from across the world is revealing that, beneath the wealth of apparently limitless and bewildering variation in detailed structure and functioning, the essential biology of all organisms is subject to the same set of basic interacting constraints on life-history and physiology. The inescapable resulting predicament during the evolution of every species is that, according to habitat, each must adopt a predictable compromise with regard to how they use the resources at their disposal in order to survive. The compromise involves the investment of resources in either the effort to acquire more resources, the tolerance of factors that reduce metabolic performance, or reproduction. This three-way trade-off is the irreducible core of the universal adaptive strategy theory which Grime and Pierce use to investigate how two environmental filters selecting, respectively, for convergence and divergence in organism function determine the identity of organisms in communities, and ultimately how different evolutionary strategies affect the functioning of ecosystems. This book reflects an historic phase in which evolutionary processes are finally moving centre stage in the effort to unify ecological theory, and animal, plant and microbial ecology have begun to find a common theoretical framework.

Author Biography

Philip Grime is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Sheffield where he currently maintains long-term experiments at the Buxton Climate Change Impacts Laboratory in North Derbyshire. As a pioneer of experimental approaches to communities and ecosystems Professor Grime is an elected member of the Dutch and British Royal Societies and was the inaugural recipient in 2011 of the Alexander von Humboldt Medal awarded by the International Association for Vegetation Science.

Simon Pierce is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Milan, Italy, and at the time of writing taught plant physiological ecology at the University of Insubria, Varese, Italy. His research encompasses plant community ecology and ecophysiology, and the reproductive biology, cultivation and conservation of terrestrial orchids. During his career he has lived and worked in the Republic of Panama, as an Andrew W. Mellon research fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, for the University of Cambridge, UK. He holds a doctorate from the University of Durham, UK, and a degree from the University of Wales, Bangor.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. x
Chapter Summariesp. xii
Acknowledgementsp. xviii
Introductionp. 1
Evolution and Ecology: a Janus Perspective?p. 3
Evolutionary biologyp. 3
Ecologyp. 4
The emergence of a science of adaptive strategiesp. 6
Summaryp. 7
Primary Strategies: the Ideasp. 8
MacArthur's 'blurred vision'p. 9
The mechanism of convergence; trade-offsp. 10
The theory of r- and K-selectionp. 11
CSR Theoryp. 12
Summaryp. 23
Primary Adaptive Strategies in Plantsp. 25
The search for adaptive strategiesp. 26
Theoretical workp. 26
Measuring variation in plant traits: screening programmesp. 28
Screening of plant growth ratesp. 29
The Integrated Screening Programmep. 29
Further trait screeningp. 34
The application of CSR theoryp. 34
Virtual plant strategiesp. 36
Summaryp. 38
Primary Adaptive Strategies in Organisms Other Than Plantsp. 40
The architecture of the tree of lifep. 41
r, K and beyond Kp. 42
Empirical evidence for three primary strategies in animalsp. 43
The universal three-way trade-offp. 44
Mammalia (mammals)p. 46
Aves (avian therapods)p. 53
Squamata (snakes and lizards) (with notes on other extant reptile clades)p. 56
Amphibia (amphibians)p. 60
Osteichthyes (bony fi shes)p. 61
Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fi shes)p. 65
Insecta (insects)p. 68
Aracnida (spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks)p. 72
Crustacea (crustaceans)p. 74
Echinodermata (sea urchins, starfi sh, crinoids, sea cucumbers)p. 75
Mollusca (snails, clams, squids)p. 77
Annelida (segmented worms)p. 79
Cnidaria (corals, sea anemones, jellyfi sh, hydras, sea pens)p. 81
Eumycota (fungi) (including notes on lichens)p. 83
Archaeap. 84
Proteobacteriap. 86
Firmicutesp. 87
Cyanobacteriap. 88
Virusesp. 90
Extinct groupsp. 94
Universal adaptive strategy theory - the evolution of CSR and beyond K theoriesp. 99
First steps towards a universal methodologyp. 100
Summaryp. 103
From Adaptive Strategies to Communitiesp. 105
Plant communitiesp. 106
Productive disturbed communitiesp. 107
Productive undisturbed communitiesp. 108
Unproductive relatively undisturbed communitiesp. 111
Plant community compositionp. 111
The humped-back modelp. 114
Originsp. 114
Formulationp. 115
Independent confi rmation and compatibility with new researchp. 116
Species-pools, fi lters and community compositionp. 121
Evidence for the action of twin fi ltersp. 128
Additional mechanisms promoting diversityp. 132
Genetic diversity, intraspecifi c functional diversity and species diversityp. 132
Microbial communitiesp. 136
The effects of plant strategies on soil microbial communitiesp. 139
Facilitation in bacterial communitiesp. 141
Coexistence in marine surface watersp. 142
Novel techniques for investigating microbial adaptive strategiesp. 142
Animal communitiesp. 144
Primary producers delimit animal diversity/productivity relationshipsp. 145
Twin fi lters and animal community assemblyp. 150
Adaptive radiation and community assemblyp. 154
Summaryp. 160
From Strategies to Ecosystemsp. 163
Back to Bayreuthp. 164
The Darwinian basis of ecosystem assemblyp. 167
How do primary adaptive strategies drive ecosystem functioning?p. 168
The plant traits that drive ecosystemsp. 169
The propagation of trait infl uences through food chainsp. 176
Complicating factorsp. 178
Ecosystem processesp. 180
Dominance and mass ratio effectsp. 180
Fluxes and feedbacks between communitiesp. 181
Top-down control by herbivoresp. 187
Top-down control by carnivoresp. 189
The key role of eco-evolutionary dynamicsp. 190
Summaryp. 192
The Path from Evolution to Ecologyp. 194
What has been learned?p. 194
What are the implications for conservation and management?p. 198
Research priorities for the next decadep. 199
Referencesp. 202
Organism Indexp. 235
Subject Indexp. 241
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