Integrating ecosystem services into the policy realm
Monday, August 7, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Robert Manson, Richard Pouyat

By illustrating the links between ecosystem function and human well-being, studies of ecosystem services promote a pragmatic approach to ecological science, an informed public, and the sustainable use of natural resources. Such services were a main focus of the ESA 's Visions Committee charged with “preparing an action plan that would accelerate our progress in addressing the major environmental challenges of our time and increase the contribution of ecological science in the coming decades”. Two of the main recommendations of this committee were to enhance the role of ecological knowledge in policy decisions and use ecological research proactively to promote sustainability in a human-dominated world. While the ecological research challenges regarding the study of ecosystem services are fairly clear, the question of how to best insure the information generated by such studies is utilized in policy and management decisions is not. To address this concern and generate a discussion that should be useful to the ESA in carrying out the Vision Committee's recommendations, this symposium focuses on strategies for integrating ecological knowledge on ecosystem services into the policy realm. This symposium brings together an interdisciplinary array of experts who will provide their diverse and practical insights on this topic.

Ecological effects of Gulf Coast hurricanes: short-term impacts and long-term consequences
Monday, August 7, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Colin Jackson, Gary Shaffer, Paul Keddy

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made landfall along the Gulf Coast in 2005. While their impacts on human communities were devastating, the ecological effects of these storms were also considerable. Storm surges flooded coastal areas and strong winds felled forests. Some of these effects were immediate; others will appear in the long-term. Louisiana 's coastal wetlands are declining at alarming rates and tidal surges from hurricanes accelerate this process. The forests of south Louisiana and Mississippi are havens for wildlife and migratory birds and some may no longer be functional refuges. Lake Pontchartrain experienced initial surges of saltwater and the subsequent addition of polluted floodwaters from New Orleans . This symposium draws together ecologists from the impacted region to discuss the effects of hurricanes on Gulf Coast ecosystems. Speakers will address the impacts of hurricanes on terrestrial and aquatic systems, and on plant and animal communities. The symposium combines studies on short-term impacts, with perspectives on the long-term consequences of hurricanes in this region. The use of this information in adaptive environmental planning will also be addressed.

Integrating microbial ecology into the general science of ecology: opportunities and challenges
Monday, August 7, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Brendan Bohannan

The science of Microbial Ecology has historically developed very separate from the general science of Ecology. It has become increasingly clear that this separation has come at a cost to both disciplines. This separation has denied microbial ecologists easy access to the rich theoretical and experimental foundation that general ecologists have developed and prevented general ecologists from truly testing the universitality of ecological concepts. The integration of microbial ecology into the general science of ecology has become both a major challenge and an exciting opportunity for ecologists. This symposium will address how this integration can be encouraged. The speakers will address such questions as: Where might microbial ecology most benefit from better communication with general ecology? What aspects of microbial ecology pose the greatest challenges for integration? How might our picture of the ecological world change if we included microorganisms more fully in the general science of ecology?

Ecological and evolutionary processes in complex networks
Tuesday, August 8, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Timothy Keitt, Bill Fagan

Network theory has emerged recently as a hot topic in ecology. The impetus driving renewed interest in networks has been recent work in complexity theory applying principles and models from statistical physics to a variety of networks ranging from the Internet to social cliques. Traditional areas of network research in ecology such as food webs have begun to employ these new models with powerful results. New classes of ecological webs are also beginning to be explored. For example, recent work on plant-animal interaction webs has provided insight into structural commonalities underlying these systems. In parallel, network theory has found important new applications in landscape ecology and conservation planning where geometric networks—mathematically represented as graphs—are used to model connectivity among reserves or other landscape elements. This symposium brings together leading researchers in the application of network theory to landscapes, communities, and disease spread to address commonality and important differences among applications of network theory in ecology and evolution.

Linking ecology and environmental justice
Tuesday, August 8, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: George Middendorf, Charles Nilon, Leanne Jablonski

Of the many ways to frame ecological studies, the most prevalent is that of basic research or inquiry as an activity (i.e., science for its own sake). Another approach is research conducted either for or as the result of policy (i.e., applied science). There is a hybrid state where both basic and applied approaches are combined by extending the conceptual framework of basic ecological studies into the human domain. The result is basic ecological research framed within policy decision-making needs. This latter framework has become increasingly important in ensuring that research addresses critical issues, that there is public support for both types of research, and that information is available to the public for use in the policy process. One increasingly used framework linking ecology with critical environmental issues is environmental justice (EJ) which holds that environmental impacts should not disproportionately affect any group and that all should be included and involved in the decision-making process. By examining the distribution of environmental benefits and harms with particular focus on the role of the decision-making process, EJ provides both a focus and a use for the results of ecological studies. Thus, linking ecology and EJ provides great opportunities for the integration of ecological knowledge into the resolution of critical environmental issues. The goals of this symposium are to illustrate how ecologists can conduct science that is useful in decision making, particularly as related to EJ issues, to encourage the development of research that incorporates societal concerns and community issues in design, and to encourage the development of research that provides information useful in decision-making. In this session, leading ecologists will explore the relationship between ecology and EJ from the perspective of their research fields and examine how linking this might change the face of ecology.

The detection of catastrophic thresholds: perspectives, definitions, and methods
Tuesday, August 8, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Robert Washington-Allen, Lucinda Salo

The concept of threshold behavior of ecosystem variables and parameters in space and time has received theoretical treatment as early as C.S. Holling's (1973) landmark paper on resilience (Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 4:1-23). Contemporary research has renewed this focus, particularly on the use of catastrophe theory as a mathematical framework for operational use in natural resource management. The speakers in this symposium will discuss threshold concepts including catastrophe theory, self-organized criticality, operational definitions, scaling laws, and methods for detection of thresholds including time scale calculus and renormalization. For example, catastrophic regime shifts in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems will be discussed, as will the novel use of time scale calculus to model the outbreak of West Nile virus in NYC and to direct the mosquitoes spraying schedules, and a recently discovered general scaling law for landscapes. The symposium will conclude with a discussion and synthesis of talks.

Upstart perspectives on restoration icons
Tuesday, August 8, 1:30-5 pm
Organizers: Daniel Larkin, Joy Zedler, Donald Falk

Restoration ecology is no longer an upstart discipline in ecology but an established star, and so it is with some of the field's theoretical underpinnings. Over the past decade, many have called for greater integration of the restoration (applied practice) and ecology (fundamental theory) halves of restoration ecology. Theorists and empiricists alike have responded by working hard to bridge the gaps. This symposium will move beyond calls for integration and critically assess what has been gained by efforts already underway. We have chosen three big questions of concern to theorists and empiricists alike: How does community structure develop? How does structure influence ecological function? How does heterogeneity alter these relationships? For each question, a speaker will present a perspective on a restoration icon and be followed by others offering upstart views that either challenge or complement the icon. The question of how community structure develops has historically been explained with succession theory. This iconic theory will be joined by views from alternative state and assembly rule theory and restoration case studies. Questions regarding structure-function relationships have been at the forefront of ecology for over a decade. Here, we will examine the paradigm of a positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function along with considerations of species and genetic effects and context-dependency. Another icon, the role of environmental heterogeneity in mediating structure and function, will be viewed in light of theory on threshold effects and patchiness, and attempts to mimic natural heterogeneity in restoration settings. Like the ideas presented, our speakers will include both established and rising stars and be drawn from the ranks of theorists and empiricists alike. We hope for lively exchanges that will help pull, push, and prod restoration science along on its continuing evolution.

What makes an ecological icon?
Tuesday, August 8, 1:30-5 pm
Organizers: Aaron Ellison, Paul Dayton

How do upstarts evolve into icons? In this symposium, we examine historical contexts and developments of representative key ideas in ecology as refracted through their "discoverers". We discuss why some ideas take off quickly, propelling their originators to iconic status, whereas others don't, but are later rediscovered and claimed anew by the rediscoverer (who becomes the icon). Speakers include historians and ecologists who draw on examples from terrestrial, aquatic, and marine systems that span the continuum from organisms and populations to communities and ecosystems. Each speaker traces the historical development of central ecological paradigms through an examination of iconic figures responsible for generating (and often promoting) the paradigms. We contrast these individuals with contemporary upstarts – some remembered, some forgotten – who contributed formatively to the development of these paradigms. We also discuss how current norms of scholarship and publication, and mechanics of citation interact in the creation of new ecological icons.

Exchange between channel and floodplain in large rivers
Tuesday, August 8, 1:30-5 pm
Organizers: Cliff Hupp, Jack Grubaugh

In recent decades, research on large river ecosystems has enumerated differences between these complex systems and smaller river ecosystems. Hydrologists and ecologists have developed a tremendous amount of field research and, coupled with technological advances in remote sensing, modeling, and GIS , have produced a steady stream of information on the patterns and processes of large river systems. Integrating results from such studies is not a trivial task because large rivers are: 1) unique in biological and physical characteristics; 2) unique in the quantity and quality of human alterations; and 3) generally not found in similar climate zones. Further, large rivers may have drastically different hydrologies, physical processes, and ecological processes in their upper sections compared to their lower sections. A contemporary view of the patterns and processes of large rivers is needed to identify "research horizons" for studies in the coming decade. This symposium has been developed for speakers to present our current knowledge of large rivers' structure and function, differences between large and small river systems, concepts for understanding ecosystem exchanges, and an overview of ecosystem services of large rivers.

Niche verses neutral: a look at an iconic idea in community ecology, its challenger, and the middle ground, Part I
Wednesday, August 9, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Annette Ostling, Nathan Sanders, Jeffrey Lake

Throughout the 20th century, the dominant view in ecology has been that species live together in communities only when they have different “niches”; an even slightly better competitor for a niche will drive other species to extinction. The alternative notion—that chance dominates over competitive exclusion to shape communities—has lacked an adequate quantitative formulation. In the 1970's and 80's, random “null models” were pitted against niche-based “assembly rules”, but these were criticized as not incorporating the effects of demographic stochasticity, evolutionary history, and dispersal limitation. More recently, a “neutral theory” of biodiversity has been proposed that incorporates many of these effects. At the same time, ecologists' understanding of the niche and the evolutionary processes leading to it has become more sophisticated. In this symposium and the organized oral session following it, we will take stock of what we have learned about community assembly in the past 30 years. We will explore the debate between an idea so established it has become an icon and the latest version of the upstart notion challenging it. We will focus on the middle ground, where researchers are sorting out when the different forces of community assembly dominate and discovering phenomena arising from the combined action of niches and chance.

From upstart to icon: Geographic Information Systems in plant population ecology: historical perspective and innovative approaches in presentation, analysis, and dissemination of data
Wednesday, August 9, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Summer Scobell, Carol Johnston

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe" (John Muir). The emergence of Geographic Information Systems has catalyzed a new way of doing ecological research. GIS is an integrated system of hardware and software that creates and analyzes map layers of spatially explicit data. In this way, many of the multiple dimensions of an organism's ecological niche can be integrated, visualized, and analyzed in one database. Amazingly, it was less than 15 years ago that the first user-friendly GIS software became commercially available. From that time on, ecologists have used GIS to analyze and disseminate their data in a way that is more effective and efficient than was possible with conventional maps or databases. In 1999 an NSF workshop convened to discuss the emerging field of GIS science. Their report included predictions of the capabilities of GIS in the year 2010, including scenarios of “spatially-enabled” scientists using real-time satellite data, an interactive “Digital Earth” map, and “enhanced reality” goggles that would superimpose GIS information over field sites. It seems appropriate, therefore, to pause this year and take stock of progress in GIS science since 1999 and the innovative ways ecologists have used it in their research. This symposium will cover diverse topics including the USGS Gap Analysis program, landscape genetics, analysis of GIS using structural equation modeling, communicating the spread of plant diseases to/from the public, and predicting the effects of climate change on plant populations. This symposium will bring together ecologists from diverse fields to discuss the past successes and future possibilities of GIS . Our goal is to demonstrate that this once upstart technology is now an extremely versatile icon that can be used in an almost limitless number of ways to analyze and communicate important ideas about ecology both among collaborating scientists and, perhaps more importantly, to the world.

Beyond labeling: comparing the sustainability of conventional and certified alternative farming systems
Wednesday, August 9, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Fabian Menalled, Andrew Hulting, Katie Monsen

Agriculture increasingly depends on off-farm inputs such as fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides to meet the demands of high-yielding crops. Although successful in terms of yield, this approach to farming has been criticized as environmentally, socially, and economically unsustainable. Certified alternative farming practices including organic agriculture are upstarts that challenge the conventional agriculture icon and are promoted as ways to increase or sustain farm profitably while reducing environmental and human risks. But to what extent are these alternative production systems more sustainable than conventional agriculture? How much do we know about the differences between these production methods and what research needs to be proposed to answer these questions? This symposium addresses the sustainability of conventional and alternative production practices by comparing established agroecosystems from multiple perspectives. We conclude the symposium with a panel and audience discussion on how to optimize and prioritize continued research efforts to increase the sustainability of food and fiber production.

Mucking through multi-factor experiments: design and analysis of multi-factor studies in global change research
Wednesday, August 9, 1:30-5 pm
Organizers: Aimee Classen

Progress has been made in the past decade to understand terrestrial ecosystem responses to climatic change using numerous single-factor and a limited number of multi-factor experiments. Model-based analyses have also been widely used to speculate on future ecosystem responses, but their predictions remain largely untested. There is an increasing awareness that multiple, and often confounded, environmental variables may dictate the structure and function of ecosystems. Therefore, in order to answer the question “What are the potential consequences of global environmental change for ecological systems?” multi-factor experiments are needed. Multi-factor experiments are complicated by design, however, and they demand a concomitant increase in the conceptual and analytical complexity of statistical analyses for their interpretation. This symposium will bring together researchers from a variety of projects, backgrounds, and expertise to discuss our collective ability to understand and interpret the results from multi-factor experiments. The symposium will conclude with an open discussion by panel members and the audience on future multi-factor experimental design and synthesis.

The urban food web: how humans alter the state and interactions of trophic dynamics
Wednesday, August 9, 1:30-5 pm
Organizers: Paige Warren, Chris Tripler, Chris Lepczyk, Jason Walker

Urbanization is an ecological process that is rapidly altering food web dynamics on the global stage. However, food web theories traditionally have not addressed human influences explicitly. Few ecological systems are free of anthropogenic effects. Human influence may be encountered in any of the pathways of a food web from altering resources (e.g., fertilization) to the extirpation of some consumers and predators of others (e.g., domestic cats). Nowhere is this more evident than in urban environments where humans pervasively and simultaneously alter all levels of trophic structure. In this symposium, we will ask: Are current food web theories robust enough to account for the novel impacts of anthropogenic influences? Can we develop general and predictive models of human impacts on food web dynamics? Speakers will integrate results from urban ecological experiments with new and existing theoretical models from both the social and biophysical sciences.

Plant clonal growth – ecological implications
Wednesday, August 9, 1:30-5 pm
Organizers: Scott Franklin, Vladimir Douhovnikoff, Paul Gagnon

The capacity for clonal growth is widespread in the plant kingdom and predominant in many ecosystems. For example, perhaps 80% of understory flora in eastern deciduous forests have the capacity to produce independent shoots genetically identical to the parent. Numerous trees and shrubs are also recognized as clonal including aspen, coast redwood, and some of North America 's most aggressive invasive species (e.g., Ailanthus ). Aspects of clonal growth include: 1) modular and decentralized organization of the plant body; 2) architectural plasticity and plant mobility; 3) resource and information sharing between plant ramets; and 4) exceptional genotype persistence and genetic representation. Despite the profound ecological and evolutionary implications, the extent of clonality remains largely understudied, particularly in woody plants. Research in the field is thus far limited in the United States and is predominantly found in the international literature. This symposium brings together established experts (icons) and younger researchers (upstarts) with two goals: 1) to review the ecological implications of clonal growth; and 2) to compare the better-studied herbaceous clonal systems (icons) with more recently studied woody clonal systems (upstarts).

Thermal physiology as a biogeographic determinant: historical and mechanistic perspectives
Thursday, August 10, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Sarah Gilman, Jonathon Stillman, Joshua Tewksbury

Temperature is considered an important determinant of species' geographic distributions; thus, geographic range shifts are frequently predicted in response to climate change related temperature shifts. Yet, surprisingly few studies have demonstrated a mechanism by which temperature controls a species' distribution. Simply put, an organism's upper and lower thermal limits can be definitively measured in a laboratory, but the relevance of these temperatures at an organism's range boundaries is less clear. This symposium aims to address limitations in our current ability to predict species' responses to temperature changes by initiating a dialogue among physiologists, ecologists, and biogeographers. Speakers from each of these fields will review the state of knowledge in their field and suggest ways for increasing the connection of information across fields to develop a more mechanistic understanding of the role of temperature in determining species distributions at both local and geographic scales.

Biodiversity, ecosystem processes, and human health
Thursday, August 10, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Alan Townsend, Osvaldo Sala

All major aspects of global environmental change have relevance for human health and, in many cases, the health issues are strongly affected by ecological processes. Examples include the controls over many infectious diseases, the role of biodiversity in providing and maintaining ecosystem services, the provision and discovery of drugs and treatments, the detoxification of soils, air and water, and even non-physical health matters related to quality of life. Ecologists therefore can play an important role in helping to understand and mitigate the human health problems that arise from environmental change. Several recent synthesis efforts, including a SCOPE Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) on biodiversity and health, have recognized the importance of ecological controls over human health in a rapidly changing world. This symposium will draw from the SCOPE-RAP and other related activities to present a broad overview of the connections between biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human health. We will highlight gaps in our understanding and stress the need for continued growth in the collaborations between ecologists and health scientists.

Large-scale studies: challenges in experimental design and analysis
Thursday, August 10, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: ShiLi Miao, Jamie Serino, Susan Carstenn

Traditional ecological studies have relied on a statistical paradigm of replicates, homogeneity, randomness, normal distributions, and controlled experiments. Increasingly, the subjects of ecological studies are complex, non-random, non-normal, not replicable, and, in general, violate most of the above conditions. Ecosystems with high temporal and/or spatial variability require large numbers of costly replicates to achieve adequate analytical power. Therefore, innovative tools are necessary to provide adequate quantitative and analytical techniques to address these large-scale, unreplicated manipulations, such as climate change and watershed eutrophication. This symposium will review the development and current status of a variety of approaches to experimental design and statistical analysis, including Bayesian, BACIPS assessments and dynamic models, and time series analysis, by highlighting their application in the Florida Everglades, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Finnish lakes, Jemez Mountains , and Indo-Pacific Marine Protected Areas.

Integrated approaches for agroecosystem management in the 21st Century
Thursday, August 10, 1:30-5 pm
Organizers: Patrick Bohlen, Laurie Drinkwater, Richard Lowrance

The sustainable management of agroecosystems in the 21st century will face unprecedented challenges. The human population may reach 9 billion by mid-century and the need to feed this burgeoning population, while protecting the environment, preserving the world's biodiversity, and sustaining agriculture in an increasingly urban world, will be a massive undertaking. Meeting these unprecedented challenges will require integration of information from numerous scientific fields, especially the convergence of the ecological, agricultural, and social sciences. This symposium will contribute to a new synthesis of basic principles of agroecosystem ecology and will highlight efforts to integrate the ecological, social, and economic aspects of agricultural systems. It will bring together elder icons and younger upstarts from various fields who have worked to bridge the gap between ecology and agriculture. The symposium is also a tribute to Ben Stinner, one of the pioneers of agroecosystem ecology. The majority of the presentations will focus on temperate and subtropical agroecosystems in developed countries, but the concepts presented have global relevance.

Multiple resource limitation in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
Thursday, August 10, 1:30-5 pm
Organizers: Adrien Finzi, Lars Hedin

The study of carbon-nitrogen interactions has dominated ecosystem science for the last several decades. Yet conceptual models suggest that the efficiency of primary production is maximized when multiple resources are simultaneously limiting. More generally, this raises the possibility that ecosystem function is simultaneously limited by multiple resources. The objective of this symposium is to bring together a diverse group of scientists working in very different systems to explore the nature and extent of multiple resource limitation to ecosystem function. We define 'ecosystem function' broadly to include the effect of multiple resources on community structure or composition, primary production, decomposition, soil development, trophic interactions, and nutrient retention. The symposium will demonstrate that a fundamental understanding of ecosystem function can only occur through the analysis of multiple element cycles.

Revisiting the "stability" icon: upstart approaches to modeling resilience
Thursday, August 10, 1:30-5 pm
Organizers: Donald DeAngelis, Steven Railsback, Volker Grimm, Uta Berger

Stability is one of the oldest and most important icons of ecology. Understanding stability properties is key to maintaining ecosystems and natural resources sustainably. Recent advances in our understanding of ecosystems have replaced the fuzzy concept of stability as static equilibria with the concept of resilience—the ability of ecosystems to dynamically absorb disturbances and provide services under a wide range of environmental conditions. Bottom-up simulation models (e.g., grid- and individual-based models) allow the study of how resilience emerges from lower-level interactions and how system-level properties feed back to the behavior of low-level entities. The resulting models have a high degree of realism and deliver independent, secondary predictions for validation. This symposium will demonstrate how this upstart modeling approach can be applied to the stability icon and underpin the new notion of resilience with mechanistic understanding. This integration will promote understanding of how ecosystems maintain their function.

Returning soils to restoration ecology: rethinking the trade of structure for function
Friday, August 11, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Mac Callaham, Christine Hawkes

Current strategies in restoration ecology generally focus on the restoration of vegetative structure, with the assumption that a restoration of whole-system function will follow. However, system function does not always accompany restored structure. This problem can often be traced to failure to establish essential aboveground/belowground linkages. Although restoration ecologists acknowledge the importance of soils, it is rare for soil to be considered, a priori, when restoration objectives are formulated. This situation seems unusual, as soils were a major focus of pioneering restoration ecologists who were motivated by massive degradations of soil resources during the dust-bowl era of the 1930s. Possible reasons for the tendency to overlook soils in restoration efforts include: 1) Soil is opaque and difficult to study; 2) Benchmarks for soil functions have been difficult to identify; and 3) Soil processes develop over a wide range of time-scales, including some that are too long to be practical to study given the relatively short duration of many restoration projects. This symposium will emphasize the importance of soils to restoration efforts and will help develop a framework for assessing soils in the restoration context. The objective of this symposium is to stimulate discussion between soil ecologists and restoration ecologists in hopes of moving closer to the ultimate goal of ensuring the ability of soils to sustain ecosystems and provide adequate supplies of food and fiber, while maintaining other critical functions into the foreseeable future. A panel discussion will follow.

Species invasion and species saturation: reconciling patterns of change in biodiversity
Friday, August 11, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Thomas Stohlgren, Sara Simonson, Dov Sax, David Tilman

Species invasions are fundamentally altering ecosystems around the world. “Icons,” like Charles Elton, have suggested that communities become saturated in time. “Upstarts” have suggested that species-rich communities may be even more invaded than species-poor ones. Such evidence is difficult to reconcile with accepted theory, which suggests that resource limitations and competition should maintain species richness and abundance below some theoretical maximum. It follows that, where dispersal is not severely limited, over evolutionary time scales, niches should fill such that the amount of unused resources decreases and the number of species within an area stabilizes. However, modern trade and transportation greatly enhance dispersal, reduce barriers to species movement, facilitate the migration rates of native species within countries, and exponentially increase the introduction and exchange of non-indigenous plants, animals, and diseases among continents. Initially, such invasions may increase species richness; however, the long-term results of invasions are unclear and depend on the importance of species saturation and competition in structuring communities. What if other factors (e.g., facilitation) structure communities? These issues are not just of academic interest, as we are confronted with an unprecedented volume and number of species introductions. We debate findings from paleoecology, ecological theory, empirical observations, and experimental evidence to provide insights on invasion, migration, coexistence, and community saturation at different spatial and temporal scales. We span terrestrial and aquatic systems in various habitats and countries. Our speakers may not always agree. We hope to improve our understanding of species saturation in structuring ecological systems in light of invasions and better understand many basic issues in ecology: alternate stable states, regional and global homogenization, and invasion meltdown to name a few.

The ecological consequences of genetic diversity
Friday, August 11, 8-11:30 am
Organizers: Marc Johnson, Randall Hughes

Understanding the ecological and ecosystem-level consequences of biodiversity is a fundamental challenge in ecology. Decades of research and intense debate have given way to a growing consensus concerning the consequences of species diversity, as well as the mechanisms underlying the effects of diversity. Despite this advance in our knowledge, ecologists know very little about the ecological consequences of one of the most important sources of biodiversity—genetic diversity. By combining ecological and evolutionary approaches, the burgeoning field of community genetics has revealed that genotypic differences between individuals within populations can have large effects on communities and ecosystem processes. This suggests that genetic diversity can have consequences for communities of organisms similar to species diversity. Given the ubiquity of genetic variation in nature and its importance to basic and applied problems in biology, understanding the community and ecosystem consequences of genetic diversity is quickly becoming an important goal of ecological research. In this symposium, we will discuss and synthesize the recent conceptual and empirical advances in our understanding of the ecological consequences of genetic diversity. The symposium will focus on the effects of genetic diversity on individual species' demography, species interactions within and between trophic levels, and ecosystem dynamics, with the ultimate goal of determining when genetic diversity is likely to be most important. We will also examine how genetic diversity influences the interplay between ecological and evolutionary processes. Talks will feature experimental field and laboratory studies, observational research, and mathematical theory to explore how genetic diversity influences the ecology of organisms from microbes to dominant forest trees in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

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