skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Urban, Mark C"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Moura, Mario R. (Ed.)
    Projecting ecological and evolutionary responses to variable and changing environments is central to anticipating and managing impacts to biodiversity and ecosystems. Current modeling approaches are largely phenomenological and often fail to accurately project responses due to numerous biological processes at multiple levels of biological organization responding to environmental variation at varied spatial and temporal scales. Limited mechanistic understanding of organismal responses to environmental variability and extremes also restricts predictive capacity. We outline a strategy for identifying and modeling the key organismal mechanisms across levels of biological organization that mediate ecological and evolutionary responses to environmental variation. A central component of this strategy is quantifying timescales and magnitudes of climatic variability and how organisms experience them. We highlight recent empirical research that builds this information and suggest how to design future experiments that can produce more generalizable principles. We discuss how to create biologically informed projections in a feasible way by combining statistical and mechanistic approaches. Predictions will inform both fundamental and practical questions at the interface of ecology, evolution, and Earth science such as how organisms experience, adapt to, and respond to environmental variation at multiple hierarchical spatial and temporal scales.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 16, 2024
  2. The finding that adaptive evolution can often be substantial enough to alter ecological dynamics challenges traditional views of community ecology that ignore evolution. Here, we propose that evolution might commonly alter both local and regional processes of community assembly. We show how adaptation can substantially affect community assembly and that these effects depend on regional (metacommunity) factors, including environmental heterogeneity and its spatial structure. In particular, early colonists can often arrive from a nearby community, adapt to local conditions, and subsequently alter the establishment or abundance of late-arriving species, often producing an evolutionary priority effect. We also discuss how interaction type and relative rates of colonization, evolution, and community interactions determine divergent community outcomes. We describe new conceptual approaches that provide insights into these dynamics and statistical methods that can better evaluate their importance. Overall, we demonstrate that accounting for adaptation during community assembly opens up novel ways for making progress on fundamental questions in community ecology.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 2, 2023
  3. Abstract

    Ameliorating the impacts of climate change on communities requires understanding the mechanisms of change and applying them to predict future responses. One way to prioritize efforts is to identify biotic multipliers, which are species that are sensitive to climate change and disproportionately alter communities. We first evaluate the mechanisms underlying the occupancy dynamics of marbled salamanders, a key predator in temporary ponds in the eastern United States We use long‐term data to evaluate four mechanistic hypotheses proposed to explain occupancy patterns, including autumn flooding, overwintering predation, freezing, and winterkill from oxygen depletion. Results suggest that winterkill and fall flooding best explain marbled salamander occupancy patterns. A field introduction experiment supports the importance of winterkill via hypoxia rather than freezing in determining overwinter survival and rejects dispersal limitation as a mechanism preventing establishment. We build climate‐based correlative models that describe salamander occupancy across ponds and years at two latitudinally divergent sites, a southern and middle site, with and without field‐collected habitat characteristics. Correlative models with climate and habitat variation described occupancy patterns better than climate‐only models for each site, but poorly predicted occupancy patterns at the site not used for model development. We next built hybrid mechanistic metapopulation occupancy modelsmore »that incorporated flooding and winterkill mechanisms. Although hybrid models did not describe observed site‐specific occupancy dynamics better than correlative models, they better predicted the other site's dynamics, revealing a performance trade‐off between model types. Under future climate scenarios, models predict an increased occupancy of marbled salamanders, especially at the middle site, and expansion at a northern site beyond the northern range boundary. Evidence for the climate sensitivity of marbled salamanders combined with their disproportionate ecological impacts suggests that they might act as biotic multipliers of climate change in temporary ponds. More generally, we predict that top aquatic vertebrate predators will expand into temperate‐boreal lakes as climate change reduces winterkill worldwide. Predaceous species with life histories sensitive to winter temperatures provide good candidates for identifying additional biotic multipliers. Building models that include biological mechanisms for key species such as biotic multipliers could better predict broad changes in communities and design effective conservation actions.

    « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 16, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  5. Abstract Urbanization is changing Earth's ecosystems by altering the interactions and feedbacks between the fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes that maintain life. Humans in cities alter the eco-evolutionary play by simultaneously changing both the actors and the stage on which the eco-evolutionary play takes place. Urbanization modifies land surfaces, microclimates, habitat connectivity, ecological networks, food webs, species diversity, and species composition. These environmental changes can lead to changes in phenotypic, genetic, and cultural makeup of wild populations that have important consequences for ecosystem function and the essential services that nature provides to human society, such as nutrient cycling, pollination, seed dispersal, food production, and water and air purification. Understanding and monitoring urbanization-induced evolutionary changes is important to inform strategies to achieve sustainability. In the present article, we propose that understanding these dynamics requires rigorous characterization of urbanizing regions as rapidly evolving, tightly coupled human–natural systems. We explore how the emergent properties of urbanization affect eco-evolutionary dynamics across space and time. We identify five key urban drivers of change—habitat modification, connectivity, heterogeneity, novel disturbances, and biotic interactions—and highlight the direct consequences of urbanization-driven eco-evolutionary change for nature's contributions to people. Then, we explore five emerging complexities—landscape complexity, urban discontinuities, socio-ecological heterogeneity,more »cross-scale interactions, legacies and time lags—that need to be tackled in future research. We propose that the evolving metacommunity concept provides a powerful framework to study urban eco-evolutionary dynamics.« less
  6. Historically, many biologists assumed that evolution and ecology acted independently because evolution occurred over distances too great to influence most ecological patterns. Today, evidence indicates that evolution can operate over a range of spatial scales, including fine spatial scales. Thus, evolutionary divergence across space might frequently interact with the mechanisms that also determine spatial ecological patterns. Here, we synthesize insights from 500 eco-evolutionary studies and develop a predictive framework that seeks to understand whether and when evolution amplifies, dampens, or creates ecological patterns. We demonstrate that local adaptation can alter everything from spatial variation in population abundances to ecosystem properties. We uncover 14 mechanisms that can mediate the outcome of evolution on spatial ecological patterns. Sometimes, evolution amplifies environmental variation, especially when selection enhances resource uptake or patch selection. The local evolution of foundation or keystone species can create ecological patterns where none existed originally. However, most often, we find that evolution dampens existing environmental gradients, because local adaptation evens out fitness across environments and thus counteracts the variation in associated ecological patterns. Consequently, evolution generally smooths out the underlying heterogeneity in nature, making the world appear less ragged than it would be in the absence of evolution. We endmore »by highlighting the future research needed to inform a fully integrated and predictive biology that accounts for eco-evolutionary interactions in both space and time.

    « less
  7. Our ability to project changes to the climate via anthropogenic forcing has steadily increased over the last five decades. Yet, biologists still lack accurate projections about climate change impacts. Despite recent advances, biologists still often rely on correlative approaches to make projections, ignore important mechanisms, develop models with limited coordination, and lack much of the data to inform projections and test them. In contrast, atmospheric scientists have incorporated mechanistic data, established a global network of weather stations, and apply multi‐model inference by comparing divergent model projections. I address the following questions: How have the two fields developed through time? To what degree does biological projection differ from climate projection? What is needed to make similar progress in biological projection? Although the challenges in biodiversity projections are great, I highlight how biology can make substantial progress in the coming years. Most obstacles are surmountable and relate to history, lag times, scientific culture, international organization, and finances. Just as climate change projections have improved, biological modeling can improve in accuracy by incorporating mechanistic understanding, employing multi‐model ensemble approaches, coordinating efforts worldwide, and validating projections against records from a well‐designed network of biotic stations. Now that climate scientists can make better projections ofmore »climate change, biologists need to project and prevent its impacts on biodiversity.

    This article is categorized under:

    Climate, Ecology, and Conservation > Modeling Species and Community Interactions

    « less
  8. Biodiversity in natural systems can be maintained either because niche differentiation among competitors facilitates stable coexistence or because equal fitness among neutral species allows for their long-term cooccurrence despite a slow drift toward extinction. Whereas the relative importance of these two ecological mechanisms has been well-studied in the absence of evolution, the role of local adaptive evolution in maintaining biological diversity through these processes is less clear. Here we study the contribution of local adaptive evolution to coexistence in a landscape of interconnected patches subject to disturbance. Under these conditions, early colonists to empty patches may adapt to local conditions sufficiently fast to prevent successful colonization by other preadapted species. Over the long term, the iteration of these local-scale priority effects results in niche convergence of species at the regional scale even though species tend to monopolize local patches. Thus, the dynamics evolve from stable coexistence through niche differentiation to neutral cooccurrence at the landscape level while still maintaining strong local niche segregation. Our results show that neutrality can emerge at the regional scale from local, niche-based adaptive evolution, potentially resolving why ecologists often observe neutral distribution patterns at the landscape level despite strong niche divergence among local communities.