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Ways of looking at community (in)stability using digital evolution experiments.(10 am, Friday, April 26)
Published:2013-04-25 Hits:904

TitleWays of looking at community (in)stability using digital evolution experiments.


Speaker: Professor Gabriel Yedid, Nanjing Agricultural University, Department of Zoology


Time: 10 am, Friday, April 26, 2013


PlaceRoom 2201, East Guanghua Tower




The idea of stable communities that are resilient to disturbance and invasion, and in which evolutionary change is impeded by ecological interactions, has garnered considerable attention in both theoretical ecology and paleobiology.  In the latter field, stable communities are often spoken of in terms of "coordinated stasis", where entire biotic communities may display evolutionary stasis for significant periods of time, undergoing turnover in response to catastrophic disturbances. A constrasting paradigm is "structural continuity", in which species come and go from open, invasible communities, while still maintaining ecological integrity.


Here, we have used communities of digital organisms with cross-feeding interactions to investigate the evolution of community stability and the possibility of community-wide stasis.  These interactions are akin to the type that have been observed to emerge spontaneously in some real microbial evolution experiments, and result in the development of rudimentary cross-feeding ecosystems. Although metrics using ecological and phenotypic data suggest that stable communities do emerge, a more dynamic picture arises when phylogeny is considered explicitly.  True stasis is uncommon, with a greater incidence of both within-clade and between-clade ecotype replacement.  Eco-evolutionary dynamics in these virtual model systems seem to be better described by structural continuity than coordinated stasis.  These results have implications for what might be expected in real experimental microbial systems with similar underlying properties and dynamics.

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