Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Major Professor

Joseph Bailey

Committee Members

Jennifer Schweitzer, Christopher Schadt, James Fordyce


Unifying ecosystem ecology and evolutionary biology promises a more complete understanding of the processes that link different levels of biological organization across space and time. Feedbacks across levels of organization link theory associated with eco-evolutionary dynamics, niche construction, and the geographic mosaic theory of co-evolution. The work presented in this dissertation directly extends the integration of eco-evolutionary dynamics by 1) highlighting our current knowledge of eco-evolutionary feedbacks in ecosystems, to provide an improved synthesis and foundation for understanding the interplay between biodiversity and ecosystem function through an eco-evolutionary lens; 2) examining the hypothesis that climate-driven evolution of plant traits will have downstream consequences for associated soil microbiomes and ecosystem function across the landscape; and 3) examining genetically-based plant-soil feedback at the landscape scale to understand how variation in climate, soil microbiome function, and tree-driven soil conditioning interact to influence phenotypic variation in bud break phenology. The findings from this dissertation provides evidence that understanding the natural variation in genetic components of both above- and belowground portions of the plant-soil linkage are important for predicting patterns of divergence in ecosystem function in a warmer world. Cumulatively, this dissertation extends the field of eco-evolutionary dynamics by highlighting the interplay between ecology and evolution that governs the expression of phenotypes, patterns of community composition, and divergence in ecosystem function at spatial scales rarely appreciated.

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