macroevolution.abc – Abiota, Biota and Constraints in Macroevolutionary Processes
The phenotypic diversification of clades that manifest on geological time scales and the microevolutionary changes that take place on ecological time scales are processes that have defied linking.
Contradictory insights within and among fields of evolutionary biology highlight conceptual chasms: Why don’t we see more evolutionary change on macroevolutionary time scales, given high potential for trait evolution on shorter time scales? Why do ecological interactions observed in living communities exert large effects on organisms involved, yet are seldom found to have lasting effects on evolutionary outcomes on geological time scales?
One reason why it has been difficult to resolve these contradictions is the lack of an empirical model system in which abiotic forces, biotic agents and evolutionary constraints can be integrated on different time scales.
macroevolution.abc aims to establish, de-novo, an empirical system that can stimulate newmodels to answer: To what degree does what happens on a generational time scale matter for diversification processes unfolding on a phylogenetic/geological time scale? How, exactly?
Cheilostome bryozoans as Drosophila of macroevolution
This project will develop and then consolidate cheilostome bryozoans as the Drosophila of macroevolution. Bryozoans are a uniquely ideal study system in which phenotypic (including life history), phylogenetic, environmental, direct biotic interaction data for extant and fossil populations can be collected in abundance.
Our team combines paleontological field work, molecular sequencing of living bryozoans, collection of fossilized competitive interactions, extraction of phenotypic data, machine-learning and automation in data collection, and statistical modelling to understand the link(s) between macro- and microevolution.