MAIN ISSUES OF EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY
The theory of evolution is the answer to the fundamental question of life: how is it that there is so much diversity on this planet ?
When Jean-Baptiste Lamarck discovers the evolution of living beings, he stressed the importance of time in the acquisition of adaptations. Time is the great organizer of variations. Charles Darwin, designing natural selection, emphasized the importance of space. The differentiation of species arises from their dispersion in space.
However, the fundamental law of scientific ecology states that organisms interact with their abiotic and biotic environment, thus affirming that evolution results from these selective forces.
Thus, it is by studying the variation of the interactions of living organisms and what is called the life history traits, that evolution makes perfect sense. Therefore, by focusing on the analysis of biological interactions, evolutionary ecology clearly differs from evolutionary biology.
The evolutionary ecology mainly deals with:
1. Evolution of life history traits
Mate choice strategies
Habitat selection (for breeding)
The age at maturity
Changes in sex ratio
The sex allocation in offspring
The number of descendants
The dispersal of individuals
The foraging strategies
Individuals specialists and generalists
Social life and territoriality
Coalitions, cooperation, altruism and adoption
The evolution of senescence
2. Interactions in nature
The dynamics of coevolution
From allopatric speciation to sympatry
Ecological trait displacement
The predator-prey interactions
Associations and mutualisms
The Mullerian mimicry and Batesian mimicry
Global change and biodiversity dynamics
The ecology of Epidemiology
The resistance of organisms to pesticides and anti-infective agents
Anyway, evolutionary ecology could shed a new light on evolution and open up perspectives in coevolutionary aspects of interactions.