Postdoctoral Fellow

Integrating species distribution modeling and phylogenetics

PI(s): Stephen Smith
Start Date: 1-Oct-2008
End Date: 31-May-2010
Keywords: phylogenetics, software, ecological niche modeling, meta-analysis, empirical studies

Species distribution modeling, or ecological niche modeling, provides a way to model species ranges using environmental layers and GPS coordinates. In addition to estimating species distributions, they have been used for predicting the spread of diseases and invasive species. With the aid of phylogenies, niche modeling has recently been incorporated into many evolutionary and ecological studies to better understand niche diversification, speciation modes, and ecological evolution among other things. Although there have been strides forward using existing analytical methods for reconstructing ancestral niche space and ecological variables, models that better describe the evolution of these traits in the context of niche evolution will provide more accurate results, which will be essential for understanding the evolution of diversity in an ecological and geographical context.

The proposed research project has three main objectives. (1) Develop new methods for reconstructing niches on phylogenies. (2) Develop software for the newly developed methods and integrating them into existing frameworks such as Mesquite. (3) Conduct meta-analyses on empirical datasets using the newly developed methodologies to examine common evolutionary patterns. The proposed research will be influential for uniting multiple disciplines, helping to provide tools and insight into how geography and the environment impact diversity across spatial and temporal scales.

For more information about my research, please visit my website:

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