Perspective

Species-rich networks and eco-evolutionary synthesis at the metacommunity level

  • Nature Ecology & Evolution 1, Article number: 0024 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/s41559-016-0024
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Abstract

Understanding how ecological and evolutionary processes interdependently structure biosphere dynamics is a major challenge in the era of worldwide ecosystem degradation. However, our knowledge of ‘eco-evolutionary feedbacks’ depends largely on findings from simple systems representing limited spatial scales and involving few species. Here we review recent conceptual developments for the understanding of multispecies coevolutionary processes and then discuss how new lines of concepts and methods will accelerate the integration of ecology and evolutionary biology. To build a research workflow for integrating insights into spatiotemporal dynamics of species-rich systems, we focus on the roles of ‘metacommunity hub’ species, whose population size and/or genetic dynamics potentially control landscape- or regional-scale phenomena. As large amounts of network data are becoming available with high-throughput sequencing of various host–symbiont, prey–predator, and symbiont–symbiont interactions, we suggest it is now possible to develop bases for the integrated understanding and management of species-rich ecosystems.

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Acknowledgements

We thank N. G. Hairston Jr, H. Hillebrand, T. Fukami, E. A. Mordecai, K. G. Peay, A. D. Letten, P.-J. Ke, M. Ushio, S. B. Munch, F. Maruyama, S. Fukuda and S. Sakaguchi for their insightful comments that improved the manuscript. This work was financially supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant (26711026), JST PRESTO (11118), and the Funding Program for Next Generation World-Leading Researchers of Cabinet Office, the Government of Japan (GS014) to H.T. M.Y. was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant (16K18618), P.R.G. by FAPESP (2009/54422-8) and CNPq, J.M.O. by the Danish Science Research Council (1323-00278), A.M. by JSPS KAKENHI Grant (25840164), T.Y. by JSPS KAKENHI Grant (26291088) and J.N.T. by NSF (DEB-1048333).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.

    • Hirokazu Toju
  2. Hakubi Center for Advanced Research, Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.

    • Masato Yamamichi
  3. Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Otsu, Shiga 520-2133, Japan.

    • Masato Yamamichi
  4. Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo 05508-900, SP, Brazil.

    • Paulo R. Guimarães Jr
  5. Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 114, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

    • Jens M. Olesen
  6. Department of Biological Science, Faculty of Life and Environmental Science, Shimane University, 1060 Nishikawatsu-cho, Matsue 690-8504, Japan.

    • Akihiko Mougi
  7. Department of General Systems Studies, University of Tokyo, 3-8-1 Komaba, Meguro, Tokyo 135-8902, Japan.

    • Takehito Yoshida
  8. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.

    • John N. Thompson

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Contributions

H.T. designed the study and wrote the first draft based on discussion with M.Y. and J.N.T.; M.Y. and T.Y. made significant inputs from the perspective of eco-evolutionary feedbacks and added some paragraphs to the first draft. H.T., P.R.G., J.M.O. and J.N.T. revised the manuscript from the aspects of coevolutionary biology and ecological interaction networks based on discussion with all authors. A.M. added essential insights into the conceptual backgrounds of theoretical community ecology. All authors contributed to the final version of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hirokazu Toju.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Methods, Supplementary References

Excel files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Data 1

    Network data used in the latent variable model analysis of human gut microbiome data.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Data 2

    Network data used in the analysis of the local plant-fungus networks.

  3. 3.

    Supplementary Data 4

    Network data used in the analysis of the metacommunity-level plant-fungus network.

Text files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Data 3

    Internal transcribed spacer sequences of the fungi analyzed in the analysis of local plant-fungus networks.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Data 5

    Internal transcribed spacer sequences of the fungi that appeared in multiple local communities.