Two afternoons during the meeting will consist of separate symposia:
Symposium I: Predicting population persistence and coexistence in the Anthropocene
Symposium II: Merging behavioural ecology with eco-evolutionary dynamics: lessons from the past to move current research forward

Symposium I: Merging behavioural ecology with eco-evolutionary dynamics: lessons from the past to move current research forward

Saturday, 4 January 2020, 1:00-5:45 PM

Kiyoko Gotanda
Swanne Gordon
Andrés López-Sepulcre

The study of eco-evolutionary feedbacks, the mutual interdependence of evolution by natural selection and ecological processes, has received much attention in recent years. This has been propelled by our increased ability to test these ideas using experimental evolution and rapidly evolving species. However, the field nor the topic is not new, with research stretching back decades. Much of the theory of what we now call eco-evolutionary dynamics is rooted in behavioural ecology. Yet current eco-evolutionary studies often relegate behavioural ecology (both theoretical and empirical) to the sidelines. In this symposium, we try to bridge what could be considered two main waves of eco-evolutionary study.

The first period was characterized by a strong emphasis on behaviour (e.g. mate choice, parental care, dispersal, territoriality) and its relationship to demography (e.g. population regulation, structure, sex ratio, spatial distribution), and was strongly dominated by theory. The second period is now characterized by a stronger emphasis on empirical and experimental research, and the relationship between the evolution of ecological traits (e.g. diet, resource allocation, fecundity, phenology) and community structure or ecosystem function.

Both approaches have led to different insights, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. We argue that eco-evolutionary research needs to revisit its’ historical connection to behavioural ecology in order to gain predictive power and mechanistic insight. How can the theoretical developments of the behavioural ecology approach help advance community and ecosystem level theory? How can the incorporation of behaviour in empirical studies improve our mechanistic understanding and interpretation of results? And ultimately, can this exercise help unify theoretical studies with empirical studies? To start this process, this symposium will bring together representatives of both approaches to discuss what insights each can bring the other in order to construct a more unified framework for eco-evolutionary theory.

Our goal is to bridge behavioural eco-evolutionary models and ecosystem-level eco-evolutionary experiments. We intend to show that behavioural ecology and eco-evolutionary dynamics have been, and should be, inherently interconnected. To do so, we will have a series of talks that touch on the history of behavioural ecology and eco-evolutionary dynamics as well as how we can use both fields to bridge the gap between theory and empirical studies. At the end of symposium, we will have a panel discussion to discuss the way forward. Because one of the challenges will be the differences in terminology and definitions between both approaches, we have prepared a series of games (e.g. keyword bingo!) aimed at engaging speakers and audience in what we expect will be not only entertaining, but also insightful discussions to expand people’s current thoughts on behaviour and eco-evolutionary dynamics.

List of Speakers:
(1) Suzanne Alonzo, UC Santa Cruz
(2) Renee Duckworth, University of Arizona
(3) Andrew Hendry, McGill University
(4) Ambika Kamath, UC Berkeley
(5) Oriol Lapiedra, Harvard University
(6) Eric Palkovacs, UC Santa Cruz
(7) Oswald Schmitz, Yale University
(8) Erik Svensson, Lund University
(9) Rose Thorogood, University of Helsinki

Symposium II: Predicting population persistence and coexistence in the Anthropocene

Sunday, 5 January 2020, 1:00-5:45 PM

Stephanie N. Kivlin, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (
Lalasia Bialic-Murphy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (
Jonathan Dickey, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (

Predicting how species will respond to changing environmental conditions is a central challenge in ecology and evolution. Organismal plasticity in survival, growth, and fecundity (vital rates) may allow populations to persist following environmental change (e.g., under increased environmental stochasticity, habitat degradation) by shifting the allocation of resources among vital rates. While often overlooked, biotic interactions among organisms may help species buffer against or exacerbate environmental change and can alter abiotic soil resources that feedback to influence native plant vital rates and population dynamics. However, predictions of when biotic interactions will be beneficial or detrimental are still enigmatic and preclude generalizable eco-evolutionary theory across space and time. For example, plants depend on a variety of biotic interactions (e.g., mycorrhizal fungi, bacteria, nectar yeasts) to maintain physiological homeostasis. However, despite their critical role in species persistence, the context specificity of biotic interactions is rarely incorporated in mechanistic demographic or coexistence models. A holistic approach that captures the relative strength of biotic interactions over space and time will improve the accuracy of population and community level projections.

In this symposium, we aim to integrate research on biotic interactions and predictive demographic and coexistence models to capture the outcome of multispecies associations. The research presented will span organisms, ecosystems, levels of biological organization, and biotic drivers to coalesce disparate evolutionary and ecological studies in the field of global change biology. This symposium will appeal to a broad audience of ASN members as it (1) creates synergies across multiple disciplines and (2) generates rules of life principles to predict population and community responses to global change for both macro- and microorganisms.

The talks presented in this symposium will be multidisciplinary and will bridge ecological, evolutionary, spatial and temporal scales, and include empiricists and modelers, to develop unique approaches to integrate biotic interactions into mathematical models. Presentations will provide new insights into (1) how interactions among organisms affect species vital rates, population dynamics, and community coexistence, (2) how these patterns shift over time and space, and (3) how these together can better predict population and community resiliency in the Anthropocene. These talks will challenge the prevailing paradigm in demography and some coexistence models, which commonly assume that organisms persist in an interaction‐free bubble and the relative strength of biotic interactions do not vary over space and time.

The speakers represent a range of career stages (e.g., graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, assistant professors, and associate professors), and disciplines (e.g., organismal, population, community ecology, and evolution), and levels of biotic interactions (e.g., plant‐ pollinator networks, plant‐microbial dynamics, biotically mediated plant‐soil feedbacks, and consumer mediated coexistence), and will represent multiple facets of scientific diversity at ASN. The invited speakers bring a fresh perspective that challenge old demographic and coexistence dogma using innovative size and stage based modeling approaches (including density dependent competition, environmental autocorrelation, and stochastic dynamics partitioned by the mean and variance).

List of invited speakers:
1) Tadashi Fukami, Stanford University
2) Tom Miller, Rice University
3) Michelle Afkhami, University of Miami
4) Anny Chung, University of Georgia
5) Stephanie Kivlin, University of Tennessee Knoxville
6) Lalasia Bialic‐Murphy, University of Tennessee Knoxville
7) William Petry, ETH Zurich
8) Jonathan Dickey, University of Tennessee Knoxville
9) John Maron, University of Montana
10) Diane Campbell, UC Irvine

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