All life emerges out of and depends upon interactions between ecology and evolution. These interactions are traditionally viewed as operating over very long time scales, for example in the development of the biosphere. The assumption that ecology is a fast process and evolution is a slow process permeates much of the thinking about the interactions between ecology and evolution, but there are now many example of evolution occurring at timescales similar to ecological dynamics (rapid or contemporary evolution). The potential for rapid evolution fundamentally changes the discourse between ecology and evolution, suggesting a tighter integration is needed to understand the origins of species and how species and the biosphere will respond to environmental change. The better integration of ecology and evolution has been identified as the next newest synthesis and a critical 21st-century challenge for biology.
The main objective of the YIBS Eco-Evolutionary Interactions program is to integrate theory and empirical work on eco-evolutionary interactions by creating a experimental test-bed to address fundamental questions raised by theoretical work on eco-evolutionary interactions.