DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Investigating the accumulation of evidence for speciation: species delimitation in a rapid and recent radiation Grant uri icon

Overview

abstract

  • Although it is widely accepted that speciation is a gradual and constant process with no clear boundaries for the identification of species, to our knowledge, no study has empirically evaluated the accumulation of species properties across time scales or from a comparative phylogenetic perspective. The research objective of this study is to evaluate the order and magnitude of change in species properties over time in the mostly South American plant genus Bartsia L. - a group of closely related species that show varying degrees of morphological, ecological, and geographical differentiation, but for which the evolutionary relationships are as of yet, unknown. To accomplish this objective, the proposed work includes, 1) a rigorous assessment of species delimitation using multiple lines of evidence including molecular, morphological, ecological, and geographical information, 2) the reconstruction of a well-resolved species phylogeny, and 3) an evolutionary comparative analysis of the accumulation of the inherent properties of a species. In addition, the resulting robust phylogenetic hypothesis for the South American species of Bartsia will provide the necessary framework for future comparative ecological and evolutionary studies in this group.

    The páramo is considered one of the most biodiverse montane ecosystems in the world and a more thorough understanding of páramo biodiversity is essential for the development of effective conservation strategies for this ecologically important and fragile Andean ecosystem. To actively aid in the conservation of the páramo we will engage in several lectures about patterns of biodiversity in the Andes sponsored and coordinated by collaborating institutions in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.
  • Although it is widely accepted that speciation is a gradual and constant process with no clear boundaries for the identification of species, to our knowledge, no study has empirically evaluated the accumulation of species properties across time scales or from a comparative phylogenetic perspective. The research objective of this study is to evaluate the order and magnitude of change in species properties over time in the mostly South American plant genus Bartsia L. - a group of closely related species that show varying degrees of morphological, ecological, and geographical differentiation, but for which the evolutionary relationships are as of yet, unknown. To accomplish this objective, the proposed work includes, 1) a rigorous assessment of species delimitation using multiple lines of evidence including molecular, morphological, ecological, and geographical information, 2) the reconstruction of a well-resolved species phylogeny, and 3) an evolutionary comparative analysis of the accumulation of the inherent properties of a species. In addition, the resulting robust phylogenetic hypothesis for the South American species of Bartsia will provide the necessary framework for future comparative ecological and evolutionary studies in this group.

    The páramo is considered one of the most biodiverse montane ecosystems in the world and a more thorough understanding of páramo biodiversity is essential for the development of effective conservation strategies for this ecologically important and fragile Andean ecosystem. To actively aid in the conservation of the páramo we will engage in several lectures about patterns of biodiversity in the Andes sponsored and coordinated by collaborating institutions in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

date/time interval

  • May 1, 2012 - April 30, 2014

total award amount

  • 14,980

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