Ecological importance of intraspecific variation
Intra-specific that has ecological effects that extend beyond individuals and populations (‘effect traits’) may play a key role in how evolutionary processes influence the ecology of communities and ecosystems. Eco-evolutionary interactions are the reciprocal interplay between ecology and evolution, and there has been increasing recognition of the importance of these dynamics for the conservation and management of exploited populations.
At our pond study system at Cape Race NL, we discovered that climate can have unexpected positive effects on intraspecific copepod nutritional state and fitness through food web interactions, which are prey for higher trophic levels such as fish. Reciprocally, a genetic basis for population differences in excretion rate of brook trout has potential to influence aquatic nutrient cycling, and bottom-up transfer of fatty acids from phytoplankton to zooplankton (Charette and Derry 2016; Negrin-Dastis and Derry 2018).
We are presently working on two whole-lake ecosystem manipulation projects involving the eco-evolutionary consequences of evolutionary manipulation of fish populations in replicate lakes.