Catalysis Meeting

Patterns of biodiversity in madagascar

PI(s): Claire Kremen
Anne Yoder (Duke University)
Start Date: 1-Mar-2006
End Date: 3-Oct-2006
Keywords: endemism, biodiversity, community ecology, biogeography, natural populations

Madagascar has often been described as one of the world's greatest natural laboratories for the study of evolution. Natural historians have been active there from French colonial days through the present. Increasingly, western scientists have been involved in bioinventory, geological, biogeographic, and ecological studies. From this accumulated work, some general trends are beginning to emerge, such as finding that the island is characterized by many areas of microendemism and that virtually all of the vertebrate groups that are presently extant appear to have colonized Madagascar by waif dispersal. Thus, the emerging pattern is one of an isolated micro-continent that has experienced repeated episodes of natural organismal invasion, presumbably followed by periods of ecological adjustment and stasis, with subsequent periods of ecological disruption, then stasis, and so on. This presumably has contributed to the observed spatial patterning of microendemism, but in ways that we can only imagine given the lack of comparative organismal histories and geographic ranges across a broad taxonomic and phylogenetic scale. There are innumerable questions to be explored before we can begin to assimilate the historical effects and contemporary patterns of community structuring in Madagacar. To fully address these questions, a synthetic approach must be brought to bear on the problem including theorists and empiricists, field and lab biologists, neontologists and paleontologists, and (most importantly) organismal specialists across a broad phylogenetic spectrum. We propose to host a NESCent Catalysis meeting that will bring together a diverse assemblage of scientists to address general questions pertaining to the historical and spatial configuration of Madagascar's biota and communities.

Related products