Evolution and Adaptation
Our Evolution and Adaptation research group is investigating the interactions between (macro)ecology and evolution. The objective is to gain a better understanding of the global distribution of genetic, taxonomic and functional diversity. To this end, we are investigating microevolutionary processes in order to understand how these occur over the course of macroevolutionary time periods.
For example, we will be investigating the effects of the extinction of giant lemurs on Madagascar. Today, only smaller species of lemurs still exist here. As a result, large seeds such as those from several species of palm trees are probably less dispersed than before. Was evolution able to adjust accordingly? Do these plants now produce smaller seeds? Or are these species facing extinction? Answers to these questions are important, as they allow us to predict how biological diversity might adapt to current and future global change.
In our group, we are comparing genomic, phylogenetic, fossil and functional characteristics of flowering plants (angiosperms) – from tropical rainforests (e.g. in the palm and sweetsop families) to Mediterranean-type ecosystems (e.g. in the buckthorn and Proteaceae families).