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This content will become publicly available on May 24, 2024

Title: A unifying framework for understanding ecological and evolutionary population connectivity
Although the concept of connectivity is ubiquitous in ecology and evolution, its definition is often inconsistent, particularly in interdisciplinary research. In an ecological context, population connectivity refers to the movement of individuals or species across a landscape. It is measured by locating organisms and tracking their occurrence across space and time. In an evolutionary context, connectivity is typically used to describe levels of current and past gene flow, calculated from the degree of genetic similarity between populations. Both connectivity definitions are useful in their specific contexts, but rarely are these two perspectives combined. Different definitions of connectivity could result in misunderstandings across subdisciplines. Here, we unite ecological and evolutionary perspectives into a single unifying framework by advocating for connectivity to be conceptualized as a generational continuum. Within this framework, connectivity can be subdivided into three timescales: (1) within a generation (e.g., movement), (2) across one parent-offspring generation (e.g., dispersal), and (3) across two or more generations (e.g., gene flow), with each timescale determining the relevant context and dictating whether the connectivity has ecological or evolutionary consequences. Applying our framework to real-world connectivity questions can help to identify sampling limitations associated with a particular methodology, further develop research questions and hypotheses, and investigate eco-evolutionary feedback interactions that span the connectivity continuum. We hope this framework will serve as a foundation for conducting and communicating research across subdisciplines, resulting in a more holistic understanding of connectivity in natural systems.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1764316 2052497
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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