Understanding the consequences of environmental change on both long- and short-term ecological and evolutionary dynamics is a basic pre-requisite for any effective conservation or management programme but inherently problematic because of the complex interplay between ecological and evolutionary processes. Components of such complexity have been described in isolation or within conceptual models on numerous occasions. What remains lacking are studies that characterise effectively the coupled ecological and evolutionary dynamics, to demonstrate feedback mechanisms that influence both phenotypic change, and its effects on population demography, in organisms with complex life histories. We present a systems-based approach that brings together multiple effects that 'shape' an organism's life history (e.g. direct and delayed life-history consequences of environmental variation) and the resulting eco-evolutionary population dynamics. Using soil mites in microcosms, we characterise ecological, phenotypic and evolutionary dynamics in replicated populations in response to experimental manipulations of environment (e.g. the competitive environment, female age, male quality). Our results demonstrate that population dynamics are complex and are affected by both plastic and evolved responses to past and present environments, and that the emergent population dynamic itself shaped the landscape for natural selection to act on in subsequent generations. Evolutionary and ecological effects on dynamics can therefore be almost impossible to partition, which needs to be considered and appreciated in research, management and conservation.