Ecological consequences of plant genetic diversity

Friday 21 February, 2020
UNSW Mathews Building, Theatre D

Evidence for the interplay between ecological and evolutionary processes is increasing, along with recognition of their potential importance for management and conservation. For example, trait divergence and genetic variation in key consumer and plant species can have far-reaching impacts on community and ecosystem processes, on par in magnitude with the effects of species additions or deletions. This talk will highlight recent results from multiple systems that demonstrate these ecological effects of genetic diversity, as well as discuss the under-appreciated evolutionary mechanisms that create and maintain this variation. Further, this talk will provide evidence for a science-practice gap in applying this information to habitat restoration practice, discuss why this gap matters, and outline suggestions for addressing it to enhance restoration success.

Bio: Associate Professor Randall Hughes specializes in understanding the relationships among biodiversity, community processes, and ecosystem function. While biodiversity research has typically focused on the species level, A/Prof Hughes is most interested in diversity within species, combining comparative field studies and molecular analytical approaches with experiments to document broad-scale patterns, understand their mechanistic basis, and apply this knowledge to conservation.