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Title: Rhizobia: tractable models for bacterial evolutionary ecology: Models for bacterial evolutionary ecology
Award ID(s):
1027253 1637653
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Environmental Microbiology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
4307 to 4311
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. In ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB), the study of developmental plasticity seeks to understand ontogenetic processes underlying the phenotypes upon which natural selection acts. A central challenge to this inquiry is ascertaining a causal effect of the exposure on the manifestation of later-life phenotype due to the time elapsed between the two events. The exposure is a potential cause of the outcome—i.e. an environmental stimulus or experience. The later phenotype might be a behaviour, physiological condition, morphology or life-history trait. The latency period between the exposure and outcome complicates causal inference due to the inevitable occurrence of additional events that may affect the relationship of interest. Here, we describe six distinct but non-mutually exclusive conceptual models from the field of lifecourse epidemiology and discuss their applications to EEB research. The models include Critical Period with No Later Modifiers, Critical Period with Later Modifiers, Accumulation of Risk with Independent Risk Exposures, Accumulation of Risk with Risk Clustering, Accumulation of Risk with Chains of Risk and Accumulation of Risk with Trigger Effect. These models, which have been widely used to test causal hypotheses regarding the early origins of adult-onset disease in humans, are directly relevant to research on developmental plasticity in EEB. 
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  2. Abstract

    Synchronized episodic reproduction among long‐lived plants shapes ecological interactions, ecosystem dynamics, and evolutionary processes worldwide. Two active scientific fields investigate the causes and consequences of such synchronized reproduction: the fields of masting and fire‐stimulated flowering. While parallels between masting and fire‐stimulated flowering have been previously noted, there has been little dialogue between these historically independent fields. We predict that the synthesis of these fields will facilitate new insight into the causes and consequences of synchronized reproduction. Here we briefly review parallels between masting and fire‐stimulated flowering, using two case studies and a database of 1870 plant species to facilitate methodological, conceptual, geographical, taxonomic, and phylogenetic comparisons. We identify avenues for future research and describe three key opportunities associated with synthesis. First, the taxonomic and geographic complementarity of empirical studies from these historically independent fields highlights the potential to derive more general inferences about global patterns and consequences of synchronized reproduction in perennial plants. Second, masting's well developed conceptual framework for evaluating adaptive hypotheses can help guide empirical studies of fire‐stimulated species and enable stronger inferences about the evolutionary ecology of fire‐stimulated flowering. Third, experimental manipulation of reproductive variation in fire‐stimulated species presents unique opportunities to empirically investigate foundational questions about ecological and evolutionary processes underlying synchronized reproduction. Synthesis of these fields and their complementary insights offers a unique opportunity to advance our understanding of the evolutionary ecology of synchronized reproduction in perennial plants.

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  3. Data and code for Beck et al., "Masting, fire-stimulated flowering, and the evolutionary ecology of synchronized reproduction." Contains all data and code necessary to replicate figures and analyses presented in the manuscript.

    This database includes 1870 plant species, many of which exhibit synchronized but episodic reproductive variation. It brings together plant species included in the study of masting with species known to flower synchronously after fire. This database served as a basis for the comparative review of the geography, life history, and phylogeny of species within these historically independent fields (see Beck et al. 2024, Ecology). Our work highlights the complementarity of species studied in the fields of masting and fire-stimulated flowering and lays the groundwork for a synthesis that has the potential to substantially advance our understanding of the evolutionary ecology of synchronized reproduction.

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