Predicting the responses to species and communities to climate change is critically important. Along with Joe Bailey, I am organizing a special feature for Functional Ecology that investigates the genetic mechanisms and evolutionary consequences of host-range shifts that are induced by climate change. We posit that indirect genetic effects (effects of the phenotype of one individual due to the expression of genes in a different individual), which can drive plant-soil feedbacks, local adaptation and genotypic diversity effects, just to name a few, will be important to understanding the consequences of climate change.
I am also interested in how evolution affects communities and ecosystems, either through the divergence of different phylogenetic groups over evolutionary time, or due to short-term changes in the genetic structure of foundation species, which many community members are dependent upon. For example, 1) Are biodiversity (i.e., species richness) effects contingent upon the evolutionary history of the interaction species? 2) Following habitat fragmentation, does rapid evolution change the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning?
How do genotype interactions among plants affect pollinator communities?
Both plant genotypic diversity and genotype by genotype (G x G) interactions can affect the number of pollinator visits received by a focal plant. With respect to genotypic diversity studies, this may be due to the overall increased productivity of plants growing in genotype mixtures, as plant in mixtures produced more floral biomass which could attract more visitors (Genung et al. 2010, PLoS ONE). However, pollinator visitation is sometimes increased due to G x G interactions, even in the absence of increases in floral biomass (Genung et al. 2012, Ecology Letters). This may be due to the synchronicity (or lack thereof) in flowering time between neighboring plants, as plants with prolific floral displays may attract visitors when benefit neighboring plants. These G x G interactions have the potential to alter the coevolutionary dynamics of the interacting plants (Genung et al. 2011, Functional Ecology), if the differences in pollinator visitation have consequences for plant fitness.
Are coevolutionary plant
An organism's traits are determined by its genes, the environment, and the interaction of these two factors. A neighboring plant can be an environmental influence on a focal plant's phenotype, but the neighboring plant also possesses genes. Among other things, this means that we can evaluate the relative importance of genetic effects which come from the focal plant, and genetic effects which come from its neighbors. In a paper currently in review, we found environmental conditions, and the plant trait being measured, influenced the relative importance of "genotype" and "neighbor genotype".