Community genetics: Expanding the synthesis of ecology and genetics

Claudia Neuhauser, D. A. Andow, George E. Heimpel, Georgiana May, Ruth G. Shaw, Stuart Wagenius

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Community genetics synthesizes community ecology and population genetics and yields fresh insights into the interplay between evolutionary and ecological processes. A community genetics framework proves especially valuable when strong selection on traits results from or impinges on interspecific interactions, an increasingly common phenomenon as more communities are subject to direct management or anthropogenic disturbances. We draw illustrations of this perspective from our ongoing studies of three representative communities, two managed and one natural, that have recently undergone large perturbations. The studied communities are: (1) insect pests of crop plants genetically engineered to produce insecticidal toxins; (2) insect-pollinated plants in habitats severely fragmented by agriculture and urbanization; and (3) a pathogen and its crop host now grown extensively outside their native ranges. We demonstrate the value of integrating genetic and ecological processes to gain a full understanding of community dynamics, particularly in nonequilibrium systems that are subject to strong selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-558
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003


  • Anthropogenic disturbance
  • Bt maize
  • Community genetics
  • Echinacea angustifolia
  • Evolution of resistance
  • Genetic engineering
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Nonequilibrium dynamics
  • Plant-insect interactions
  • Plant-pathogen interactions
  • Ustilago maydis


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