About this Research Topic
In a blink of the eye in geologic time, humanity has changed the structure and function of the Earth system. Terrestrial and marine ecosystems are undergoing a major resetting and are progressively encroached by human-dominated systems. Understanding how life is finding its way to thrive in coastal systems ruled by humans will help clarify the outcomes of our relationship with nature.
Traditionally, ecologists have seen humans either as a disturbance to be accounted for or one that is simply ignored, despite long-term and large-scale human effects on ecosystems. This approach is now untenable; there is enough scientific evidence showing that ecosystems we study are in transition to new states and regimes, and ecosystems globally are dominated by a single “hyper-keystone species” – humans. We are now the most important factor influencing the structure and function of ecosystems and the main force of evolutionary change. Among the wide array of human-dominated landscapes, cities and their associated supportive systems are emerging as new ecological scenarios and hotbeds for contemporary evolution. The strong selective pressures in these systems are dictating the balance between the species that decline (`losers') and those that thrive and expand ('winners') in human-altered environments.
The nascent field of urban evolutionary ecology has advanced our understanding of how urbanization affects the evolution of populations, and how those evolutionary changes, in turn, influence the ecological dynamics of populations, communities, and ecosystems. This knowledge, however, is restricted to urban areas on land and in developing countries, despite the fact that long-term compositional turnover is up to four times faster in the oceans than in terrestrial ecosystems. Therefore, this Research Topic is devoted to gathering correlational and experimental studies, meta-analysis, systematic reviews and perspectives aiming to untangle the systematic patterns of change in gene flow and expression, life-history traits, demographic processes and community assembly rules along wild-urban gradients in human-dominated marine systems, particularly in tropical coastal areas.
Keywords: Ecology, Evolution, Anthropocene, Urbanization, Coastal Zone
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