Home - Institute for Contemporary Evolution

Conciliation Biology

Maculinea arion
Maculinea arion, Large Blue butterfly, went extinct in England after vegetation changes following the control of nonnative rabbits decimated the ants upon which its larvae depend .

What do invasive species, emerging diseases, weeds, cancers and GMOs have in common?

More and more living systems are inhabited by life forms that are new to them, and to us. Conciliation Biology has been called the "eco-evolutionary management of permanently invaded biotic systems".

'Eco' because living things interact within communities.

'Evo' because new forms change evolution in their new communities, and because if they stay, those changes are long-term.

And 'eco-evo' because those evolutionary changes will affect how the community functions (and vice versa).

This ongoing interplay is ubiquitous- from biodiversity hotspots and natural reserves to croplands and dairies, and within our own bodies. The consequences can be positive, neutral or negative, and from conservation to medicine, most of the focus has been on the negative.

Eradication however is often a problematic strategy- too expensive, too dangerous, or currently impossible. A more realistic strategy is then to take a conciliatory approach, which asks what can we do to reduce negative consequences and accentuate the positive. Long-term management of these new relationships will require evolutionary tools, which use the predictive power of theory to design positive outcomes.