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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: February 2013

Chapter Sixteen - Perspective



Trait-mediated indirect interactions (TMIIs) are important mediators of community diversity and structure and associated ecosystem processes. Elucidating the genetic basis of ecologically important phenotypic traits is the first step toward understanding the complex interactions that occur among community members. Molecular markers routinely used in quantitative trait loci (QTL) analyses (e.g., amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs), simple sequence repeats (SSRs)) have provided researchers with a toolbox for investigating the genetic basis of heritable traits. A goal of this research is to link genetically based traits to community interactions and ecosystem function. Ultimately, this insight can open a window onto the evolutionary dynamics that shape community structure and associated ecosystem processes (e.g., nutrient cycling). Such an approach is important as it bears on the continued development of the field of community genetics, which seeks to understand the genetic interactions that occur between species and their abiotic environment in complex communities (e.g., Whitham et al. 2003, 2006; Johnson and Agrawal 2005; LeRoy et al. 2006; Bangert et al. 2006a, b; Schweitzer et al. 2008; Crutsinger et al. 2009; Bailey et al. 2009).

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