NCEAS Project 9963

Gradients in biodiversity and speciation

  • Gary G. Mittelbach
  • Howard V. Cornell
  • Douglas W. Schemske

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group21st—25th September 2005Participant List  
Working Group18th—21st April 2006Participant List  
Working Group4th—7th April 2007Participant List  
Working Group23rd—24th May 2008Participant List  

The diversity of life varies predictably with climate and is greatest where it is warm and wet (the humid tropics). But, the question "why" has puzzled biologists for over a century. Recent attention has focused on evolutionary mechanisms, in particular whether speciation rates may vary predictably with climate/latitude, whether such variation in speciation rates can account for higher species richness in tropical environments, and what mechanisms might cause geographical variation in speciation rates. We propose to bring together an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and paleontologists to address the conceptual issues of how climate interacts with ecological and physiological processes to affect speciation rates. Our goal is to test whether speciation/diversification rates vary with climate/latitude using phylogenetic and paleontological data. However, formidable challenges stand in the way of these tests. Therefore, our group will work to identify ways to meet these challenges and to address methodological issues of how to use phylogenetic analysis, as well as paleontological data, to estimate rates of speciation and evolutionary diversification across geographical gradients.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Jablonski, David; Roy, Kaustuv; Valentine, James W. 2006. Out of the tropics: Evolutionary dynamics of the latitudinal diversity gradient. Science. Vol: 314. Pages 102-106.
Journal Article McPeek, Mark A.; Brown, Jonathan. 2007. Clade age and not diversification rate explains species richness among animal taxa. American Naturalist. Vol: 169(4). Pages 0003-0147/2007/16904-42093.
Journal Article McPeek, Mark A. 2007. The macroevolutionary consequences of ecological differences among species. Palaeontology. Vol: 50(1). Pages 111-129.
Data Set McPeek, Mark A. 2008. Diversification rates obtained from a survey of species-level molecular phylogenies. (Online version)
Journal Article McPeek, Mark A. 2008. The ecological dynamics of clade diversification and community assembly. American Naturalist. Vol: 172(6). Pages e270-e284.
Journal Article Mittelbach, Gary G.; Schemske, Douglas W.; Cornell, Howard V.; Allen, Andrew P.; Brown, Jonathan; Bush, Mark; Harrison, Susan P.; Hurlbert, Allen H.; Knowlton, Nancy; Lessios, Harilaos A.; McCain, Christy M.; McCune, Amy R.; McDade, Lucinda A.; McPeek, Mark A.; Near, Thomas J.; Price, Trevor; Ricklefs, Robert E.; Roy, Kaustuv; Sax, Dov F.; Schluter, Dolph; Sobel, James M.; Turelli, Michael. 2007. Evolution and the latitudinal diversity gradient: Speciation, extinction and biogeography. Ecology Letters. Vol: 10. Pages 315-331.
Journal Article Ricklefs, Robert E. 2006. Global variation in the diversification rate of passerine birds. Ecology. Vol: 87(10). Pages 2468-2478.
Journal Article Roy, Kaustuv; Goldberg, Emma E. 2007. Origination, extinction, and dispersal: Integrative models for understanding present-day diversity gradients. American Naturalist. Vol: 170. Pages S71-S85.
Presentations Schemske, Douglas W. 2007. Evolution in the tropics: Dobzhansky revisited. European Society for the Study of Evolution, Uppsala, Sweden. Plenary lecture.
Presentations Schemske, Douglas W. 2007. Evolution in the tropics: Dobzhansky revisited. British Ecological Society Symposium: Ecology and Speciation, University of Sheffield, UK. Invited speaker.
Presentations Schemske, Douglas W. 2008. Evolution in the tropics: Dobzhansky revisited. Colorado State University, Distinguished Ecologist Series.
Book Chapter Schemske, Douglas W. 2009. Biotic interactions and speciation in the tropics. Edited by Butlin, Roger; Bridle, Jon; Schluter, Dolph Speciation and Patterns of Diversity (Ecological Reviews). Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK. Pages 219-239.
Journal Article Schemske, Douglas W.; Mittelbach, Gary G.; Cornell, Howard V.; Sobel, James M.; Roy, Kaustuv. 2009. Is there a latitudinal gradient in the importance of biotic interactions?. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics. Vol: 40. Pages 245-269.