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SPECIAL FEATURE Selection Studies in Ecology: Concepts, Methods, and Directions1

Summary: 1649
Selection Studies in Ecology: Concepts, Methods, and Directions1
Ledyard Stebbins is said to have once blurted out, at the end an ecologist's seminar, ``you seem
to be ignoring evolution.'' An unnamed, eminent living ecologist once plainly stated ``evolution
does not interest me and is irrelevant to the questions I am asking.'' Personalities aside, you
cannot argue with the facts of what scientists are publishing in the pages of Ecology. Most every
issue contains papers involving selection analyses and artificial selection studies aimed at ad-
dressing ecologically relevant questions. More and more graduate students are interested in in-
tegrating selection studies into ecology. Yet, some of the design issues, nuances of interpretation,
and fruitful directions are not always clear. I have asked six of the top evolutionary biologists,
proficient in asking ecological questions and known for their clarity of thought and elegant designs,
to present concepts, methods, and directions for using selection studies in ecology.
The result is a surprising array of questions that can be addressed. Classically, the study of
generalism and specialism in ecology has been addressed by attempting to detect trade-offs in
fitness when organisms use alternate resources. However, selection studies have many other
applications in ecology. For example, a growing interest in genotype-by-environment interactions
is leading to the development of novel techniques to study the causes and consequences of
phenotypic plasticity. Selection studies can also aid in understanding niche and species range
boundaries and character displacement. Perhaps less well-known are studies of the role of fre-


Source: Agrawal, Anurag - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & Entomollogy, Cornell University


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology