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  1. Abstract Background

    MacArthur and Wilson's theory of island biogeography has been a foundation for obtaining testable predictions from models of community assembly and for developing models that integrate across scales and disciplines. Historically, however, these developments have focused on integration across ecological and macroevolutionary scales and on predicting patterns of species richness, abundance distributions, trait data and/or phylogenies. The distribution of genetic variation across species within a community is an emerging pattern that contains signatures of past population histories, which might provide an historical lens for the study of contemporary communities. As intraspecific genetic diversity data become increasingly available at the scale of entire communities, there is an opportunity to integrate microevolutionary processes into our models, moving towards development of a genetic theory of island biogeography.


    We aim to promote the development of process‐based biodiversity models that predict community genetic diversity patterns together with other community‐scale patterns. To this end, we review models of ecological, microevolutionary and macroevolutionary processes that are best suited to the creation of unified models, and the patterns that these predict. We then discuss ongoing and potential future efforts to unify models operating at different organizational levels, with the goal of predicting multidimensional community‐scale data including a genetic component.

    Main conclusions

    Our review of the literature shows that despite recent efforts, further methodological developments are needed, not only to incorporate the genetic component into existing island biogeography models, but also to unify processes across scales of biological organization. To catalyse these developments, we outline two potential ways forward, adopting either a top‐down or a bottom‐up approach. Finally, we highlight key ecological and evolutionary questions that might be addressed by unified models including a genetic component and establish hypotheses about how processes across scales might impact patterns of community genetic diversity.

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  2. Abstract

    Biodiversity accumulates hierarchically by means of ecological and evolutionary processes and feedbacks. Within ecological communities drift, dispersal, speciation, and selection operate simultaneously to shape patterns of biodiversity. Reconciling the relative importance of these is hindered by current models and inference methods, which tend to focus on a subset of processes and their resulting predictions. Here we introduce massive ecoevolutionary synthesis simulations (MESS), a unified mechanistic model of community assembly, rooted in classic island biogeography theory, which makes temporally explicit joint predictions across three biodiversity data axes: (i) species richness and abundances, (ii) population genetic diversities, and (iii) trait variation in a phylogenetic context. Using simulations we demonstrate that each data axis captures information at different timescales, and that integrating these axes enables discriminating among previously unidentifiable community assembly models. MESS is unique in generating predictions of community‐scale genetic diversity, and in characterizing joint patterns of genetic diversity, abundance, and trait values. MESS unlocks the full potential for investigation of biodiversity processes using multidimensional community data including a genetic component, such as might be produced by contemporary eDNA or metabarcoding studies. We combine MESS with supervised machine learning to fit the parameters of the model to real data and infer processes underlying how biodiversity accumulates, using communities of tropical trees, arthropods, and gastropods as case studies that span a range of data availability scenarios, and spatial and taxonomic scales.

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  3. Abstract

    The study of biodiversity started as a single unified field that spanned both ecology and evolution and both macro and micro phenomena. But over the 20th century, major trends drove ecology and evolution apart and pushed an emphasis towards the micro perspective in both disciplines. Macroecology and macroevolution re‐emerged as self‐consciously distinct fields in the 1970s and 1980s, but they remain largely separated from each other. Here, we argue that despite the challenges, it is worth working to combine macroecology and macroevolution. We present 25 fundamental questions about biodiversity that are answerable only with a mixture of the views and tools of both macroecology and macroevolution.

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