Working Group

Montane diversity in space and time: linking evolutionary biology and macroecology

PI(s): Ken Kozak (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)
Catherine Graham (State University of New York-Stony Brook)
Carsten Rahbek (University of Copenhagen)
Start Date: 1-Sep-2007
End Date: 31-Aug-2009

Many montane regions are hotspots of biological diversity. Their high diversity is thought to be driven by their environmental complexity (climatic and topographic heterogeneity) and tendency to harbor climatically stable refugia, factors that seem to promote population isolation, speciation, and the long-term persistence of species. To date, most studies addressing factors that promote high montane diversity have focused on identifying macroecological correlates of species diversity. However, relatively few studies have addressed how these correlates are linked to evolutionary processes that directly increase or decrease diversity (i.e. population splitting, speciation, and extinction). Only recently are there sufficient data (taxonomic, phylogenetic, phylogeographic, climatic, and geographic) to rigorously test integrative hypotheses about causes of present-day diversity patterns across a broad spectrum of species and regions with different climatic, geographical, and evolutionary histories. Our working group will utilize montane regions and their faunas as a model system to understand how environmental variation in space and time generates and maintains patterns of diversity. We propose to bring together researchers from a wide-range of disciplines, including phylogenetics, phylogeography, macroecology, paleobiology, conservation biology, and geographic-information science. Together, we will work in collaboration with a large international initiative, the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA), which is eager to promote evolutionary research within their mission of understanding and conserving montane diversity.

Related products