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SPECIAL FEATURE Community Genetics: New Insights into Community Ecology by

Summary: 543
Community Genetics: New Insights into Community Ecology by
Integrating Population Genetics1
Community genetics is the study of the interaction between genes within a species and pop-
ulations of other species in a community. This area of research was first introduced by Janis
Antonovics (1992 [Toward community genetics. Pages 426429 in R. S. Fritz and E. L. Simms,
editors. Plant resistance to herbivores and pathogens: ecology, evolution and genetics. University
of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA]) as a modern attempt to integrate community ecology
and evolution. Research programs in community genetics span from understanding the mechanistic
bases of the evolution of organisms in a community context to identifying the role of genetic
variation in generating community patterns. Is community genetics an emerging subdiscipline
that finally unites multispecies ecology with the genetics of evolutionary change? It is argued
that a mature understanding of either ecological communities or the evolution of species will
require community genetics. Others cry that this label is nothing more than funding-agency-style
renaming of perfectly good, classic questions in evolutionary ecology. I have asked two of the
leading groups in community genetics to lay down the definitions and set the agenda for future
work: Neuhauser et al., who established a Center for Community Genetics at the University of
Minnesota; and Whitham et al., who have been studying the consequences of genetic variation
for diverse communities and community processes. The result is two fresh and controversial lead


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


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology