Artificial selection has been practiced for centuries to shape the properties of individual organisms, providing Darwin with a powerful argument for his theory of natural selection. We show that the properties of whole ecosystems can also be shaped by artificial selection procedures. Ecosystems initiated in the laboratory vary phenotypically and a proportion of the variation is heritable, despite the fact that the ecosystems initially are composed of thousands of species and millions of individuals. Artificial ecosystem selection can be used for practical purposes, illustrates an important role for complex interactions in evolution, and challenges a widespread belief that selection is most effective at lower levels of the biological hierarchy
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