Can heritable traits in a single species affect an entire ecosystem? Recent studies show that such traits in a common tree have predictable effects on community structure and ecosystem processes. Because these 'community and ecosystem phenotypes' have a genetic basis and are heritable, we can begin to apply the principles of population and quantitative genetics to place the study of complex communities and ecosystems within an evolutionary framework. This framework could allow us to understand, for the first time, the genetic basis of ecosystem processes, and the effect of such phenomena as climate change and introduced transgenic organisms on entire communities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology