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The influence of topography and climate on biodiversity – insights from an insular montane cloud forest

10 Jul 2020 - Brent Emerson, Instituto de Productos Naturales y Agrobiología (IPNA-CSIC) | 15h30
The influence of topography and climate on biodiversity – insights from an insular montane cloud forest


Many oceanic islands are characterised by high levels of arthropod endemism and diversified lineages. So, we know that a lot of speciation happens within islands, but we are confronted with the question of why it happens. Adaptive evolution seems to be frequently associated with speciation on oceanic islands, but the drivers of speciation itself remain elusive. Here we take a site-based approach to sample whole communities of beetle species from across a montane cloud forest ecosystem to understand the importance of neutral drivers for speciation. We find a surprisingly strong evolutionary signal for subtle landscape variation in climate as a driver of speciation, related to a geological event from more than 4 million years ago. Through detailed genomic analyses, we reveal an unprecedented scale of parallel species responses to Quaternary climate oscillations. Finally, our results provide support for a Quaternary model of montane cloud forest dynamics that, as far as we are aware, has not been considered in evolutionary and ecological analyses of montane cloud forest biodiversity.


Brent’s research focusses on understanding what explains spatial variation in invertebrate communities. To do this he draws from his background in population genetics and phylogenetics, seeking to integrate these disciplines within a more multidisciplinary site-based investigative framework. He leads the Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group within the Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology of the Spanish National Research Council (IPNA-CSIC), based in Tenerife. 


[Host: Raquel Vasconcelos, CONGEN]

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