Intraspecific Genetic Variation and Species Interactions Contribute to Community Evolution

Thomas G. Whitham, Gerard J. Allan, Hillary F. Cooper, Stephen M. Shuster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Evolution has been viewed as occurring primarily through selection among individuals. We present a framework based on multilevel selection for evaluating evolutionary change from individuals to communities, with supporting empirical evidence. Essential to this evaluation is the role that interspecific indirect genetic effects play in shaping community organization, in generating variation among community phenotypes, and in creating community heritability. If communities vary in phenotype, and those phenotypes are heritable and subject to selection at multiple levels, then a community view of evolution must be merged with mainstream evolutionary theory. Rapid environmental change during the Anthropocene will require a better understanding of these evolutionary processes, especially selection acting at the community level, which has the potential to eliminate whole communities while favoring others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-612
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
StatePublished - Nov 2 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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