Linking ecology and evolution to understand and conserve biodiversity

Biodiversity outcomes under global change will be influenced by a range of important ecological and evolutionary processes. However, the most commonly applied approaches to understanding likely outcomes for biodiversity across large regions ignore these processes. This talk will show how mechanistically combining ecology and evolution alters both our understanding of likely future outcomes for biodiversity and the most appropriate management responses. A generic ‘evolving metacommunity’ model (M-SET) was developed, and demonstrated by projecting climate change outcomes for the flora of Tasmania - all 2051 species. Accounting for physiological tolerances, genetic adaptation and community assembly substantially altered projected biodiversity outcomes, with strong interactions between ecological and evolutionary processes. This research demonstrates the importance of considering key processes in developing robust biodiversity conservation policy, planning and management responses to ongoing global change.