Metacommunity biology as an eco-evolutionary framework for understanding exotic invasion in aquatic ecosystems

Jennifer G. Howeth, Alison M. Derry, and Adam M. Reitzel

Full Citation: Jennifer G. Howeth, Alison M. Derry, and Adam M. Reitzel. 2010. Metacommunity biology as an eco-evolutionary framework for understanding exotic invasion in aquatic ecosystems, p. 93-109. In P.F. Kemp [ed.], Eco-DAS VIII Symposium Proceedings. ASLO. [doi:10.4319/ecodas.2010.978-0-9845591-1-4.93]

ABSTRACT: One of the greatest threats to the biotic integrity of native aquatic communities over contemporary time scales is the invasion and rapid geographic spread of exotic species. Whereas dispersal rates of exotic species are documented to affect invasion success, few studies acknowledge the role of dispersal in both exotic and native species in mediating exotic establishment and the evolutionary response of native communities. In this chapter, we suggest that the metacommunity concept may serve as an informative, spatially explicit framework in which to describe dispersal-mediated trajectories of exotic invasion and the associated evolutionary response of native species. We outline ways in which metacommunity biology may enhance our understanding of the spatio-temporal invasion sequence, including exotic establishment, geographic spread, and interactions with native species. The integrative framework is subsequently applied to case studies of eco-evolutionary interactions between exotic and native species within invaded aquatic metacommunities, where dispersal-mediated evolutionary responses in both exotic and native species appear to be important. Finally, we propose a molecular toolkit that may facilitate understanding the evolutionary processes underlying different stages of the spatio-temporal invasion sequence. We suggest that the advances gained from adopting the metacommunity concept may inform conservation strategies by serving to identify native aquatic communities that will resist exotic invasion or evolve in response to the non-native species.