Biodiversity can be considered from two distinct but complementary perspectives. First, a particular habitat or type of ecological community can be thought of as relatively more or less diverse depending on how many species inhabit it. Secondly, a particular group of related organisms, such as a genus, can also be thought of as having high diversification potential (if many new species have arisen recently in the group, with low background extinction) or low diversification potential (if speciation rates are low and/or extinction rates are high). At NCEAS, I am investigating whether and how these two sources of diversity, one environmental and the other evolutionary, are related. I hope to determine particular features of a habitat or community that in general promote high rates of evolutionary diversification across different groups of organisms. The goal of this study is to understand whether we should focus conservation efforts mainly on those habitats which currently have high biodiversity, or if there are other types of habitats we should also conserve because of their potential to contribute to future biodiversity.
More information about this research project and publications.