evolution; climate; niche; trait; model; phylogeny; Africa; Restionaceae; community; species; likelihood; Bayesian; drought; experiment; greenhouse; survival; environmental; occurrence; stratified; functional; gradient; sampling; clade; pool; Cape
(2013), ‘Next generation’ biogeography: towards understanding the drivers of species diversification and persistence, in Journal of Biogeography
, 40, 1013-1022.
(2013), Conservation of phylogeographic lineages under climate change, in GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY
, 22(1), 93-104.
(2013), Temporal and spatial origin of Gesneriaceae in the New World inferred from plastid DNA sequences, in BOTANICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY
, 171(1), 61-79.
(2012), Mutualism with sea anemones triggered the adaptive radiation of clownfishes, in BMC EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
, 12, 212.
(2012), Trophic specialization influences the rate of environmental niche evolution in damselfishes (Pomacentridae), in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences
, 279, 3662-3669.
(2012), Effects of Phylogenetic Signal on Ancestral State Reconstruction, in SYSTEMATIC BIOLOGY
, 61(3), 533-538.
(2012), Measuring ecological niche overlap from occurrence and spatial environmental data, in GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY
, 21(4), 481-497.
(2011), Tracing the recombination and colonization history of hybrid species in space and time, in Molecular Ecology
, 20, 3701-3704.
(2011), 21st century climate change threatens mountain flora unequally across Europe, in GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY
, 17(7), 2330-2341.
(2011), Impacts of climate change on Swiss biodiversity: An indicator taxa approach, in BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION
, 144(2), 866-875.
(2010), Assessing rapid evolution in a changing environment, in TRENDS IN ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION
, 25(12), 692-698.
(2010), Within-taxon niche structure: niche conservatism, divergence and predicted effects of climate change, in ECOGRAPHY
, 33(6), 990-1003.
The species environmental niche consists of the biotic and abiotic conditions necessary for long-term persistence and the niche occupies a central place in the development of ecological theories of competition, limiting similarity, and character divergence. We study interspecific variation in niche characteristics by adopting an evolutionary perspective. Application of a toolkit used in the disciplines of systematics and evolutionary biology enables us to address how the environmental niche has changed in a family of plants during the diversification of a clade. We focus on the Restionaceae, a monophyletic family of grass-like plants of which 340 of the 350 species are endemic to southern Africa. This is a defensible choice because the relative climatic stability of this region during the Pleistocene suggests that these species distributions are currently at equilibrium with climate. Under accelerating climate change, the capacity of these species for rapid niche evolution will contribute to determining their fate in a landscape where opportunities for successful dispersal to areas of favourable climate may be limited by intervening expanses of unsuitable habitat and the anthropogenic barriers of agriculture, transportation corridors and urbanization. We will develop models of niche evolution that serve both for understanding the evolution of extant species diversity and community structure, and for forecasting how diversity and community structure change, given projected climate change and the potential we identify for rapid niche evolution. We will model characteristics of the ß-niche (habitat-specific, e.g. geology, fire frequency and vegetation type) and ?-niche (climatic), using field-acquired occurrence data for each species. New GIS data layers of fire frequency and geology will be developed. The relationship between the fundamental and the estimated realized niche will be experimentally evaluated in multiple species. We will compare in a greenhouse experiment the drought and flooding tolerances of species to their modelled precipitation requirements. A transplant experiment in the field will help us determine whether species replacement along an elevation and rainfall gradient is driven primarily by fundamental niche requirements or by interspecific competition and, thus, the realized niche. We will quantify the evolutionary lability of the environmental niche by modelling selected niche parameters over a completely-sampled species-level phylogeny. This will indicate which parameters have constrained the evolution of the clade and which parameters are associated with differentiation and speciation. However, working with species-level phylogenies and niche models has formerly entailed assumptions of constant evolutionary rates and equal inheritance of trait variance by new species. These assumptions will be addressed in population-level analyses of species complexes to determine speciation modes and establish their impacts on the patterns of inheritance of niche variability. Further studies will estimate using models of trait evolution the variation among clades in rates of niche change.Using data on species distributions, chorological analyses and niche modeling we will determine current regional species pools. These will further be stratified into habitat-specific species pools, using field observations, niche models and models of environmental filtering. Then, using species traits and phylogenetic relationships, we will seek the determinants of community assembly (i.e., the combinations of species from the regional pool that can be combined into communities). Using the model parameters developed to address the above questions, we will attempt to estimate the possible contribution of rapid evolution of species environmental niches to change in regional species pools and local communities that may accompany altered climate. These analyses will provide a powerful tool with which to evaluate and predict the response to climate change by multiple, related species and how these changes could impact regional spatial patterns of diversity in the Restionaceae.The SPEED project developes the tools necessary to address the effects of climate change and the evolutionary response of species to it. We intend to develop means to convert knowledge on these changes into geographically-explicit patterns of species diversity in the Restionaceae. We extend the potential impact of our work by including an integrated program for training three Ph.D. students in the evolutionary and ecological modeling techniques that we develop and use during this research.