March 17 2016

11:00 158 Hershey Hall

Felipe Zapata
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University

Understanding the evolution of plant diversity: insights from an integrative analysis in montane biodiversity hotspots


Understanding the origin and evolution of species diversity is a central question in ecology and evolutionary biology. To address this question, my research program focuses on three broad dimensions: i\) the discovery and description of species diversity, ii\) the inference of the evolutionary history of species, and iii\) the interpretation of such evolutionary histories in the context of the natural history, ecology, and geographic distribution of species to test hypotheses on the mechanisms promoting the evolution of diversity. In the first part of my talk, I present my research on the evolution and diversification of Escallonia, an ecologically diverse group of shrubs widely distributed in three montane biodiversity hotspots of South America. Integrating phylogenetic, biogeographic, and bioclimatic analyses with a multidimensional approach to species delimitation, I show that species in Escallonia have largely diversified across environmental gradients in close geographic proximity. This is consistent with the hypothesis of niche evolution and suggests that ecological adaptation may be the key force in generating and maintaining species diversity in this group. In the second part of my talk, I focus on how in my current and future research I am pushing forward the three dimensions my research program addresses. First, I present ongoing work on a critical evaluation of methods for species delimitation using morphological data, describe an explicit way to integrate geographic information into species delimitation, and call for integrative approaches that consider multiple lines of evidence on an equal footing. Second, I describe major challenges in phylogenomics, present a tool to address these challenges, describe the limitations of current phylogenomic workflows, and discuss a way forward towards integrative phylogenomics. Finally, I describe how I plan to use phylogenies to study phenotype and genome evolution, and how this relates to the evolution of plant diversity.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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