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Joint Species And Niche Evolution

Project description

Understanding biodiversity evolution

The notion of tempo and mode of species diversification integrates palaeontology with genetics and natural selection. It represents a key question in evolutionary biology. Clades that are groupings including a common ancestor; the lineages diversify during their evolution, increasing disparity in niches when new lineages colonise gaps of niche spaces. However, despite its importance, the interdependence between species diversification and niche evolution is not yet understood. The EU-funded INSANE project aims to develop innovative flexible models that allow joint inference on coupled diversification and trait evolution dynamics. It will extend research into multivariate trait evolution, better describe the niche concept and integrate palaeontological data. The project will increase our understanding of biodiversity creation and evolution.


Understanding the tempo and mode of species diversification and concomitant ecological divergence has been a long-sought goal in evolutionary biology. As clades diversify, disparity in niches typically increases when new lineages colonize previously unfilled zones of niche space. Despite its critical importance in understanding life’s evolution, the universality of an interdependence between species diversification and niche evolution, as well as the directionality and drivers of this association, are still poorly understood. This is presumably attributable to the inherent computational and mathematical challenges to develop process-generating models that would couple diversification and niche evolutionary dynamics and the limited availability of extensive and comparable datasets to characterize niches over large radiations integrating neontological and paleontological data. In this project, I will first develop much-needed novel flexible models that allow joint inference on coupled diversification and trait evolution dynamics by allowing joint rate-heterogeneity for radiations of considerable size. Subsequently, I will enhance biological realism by expanding to multivariate evolution of traits, better characterizing the niche concept, and by integrating paleontological data. Finally, I will allow inference on biotic and abiotic drivers of the interrelationship of species and niche diversification. These models will enable examining hitherto untestable classic evolutionary hypotheses in a formal framework on the feedback between diversification and niche evolution, at the intersection of ecology and evolutionary biology. By applying these models to big scale curated datasets of species-level niches and recently available phylogenetic trees for thousands of species and the ability to integrate fossil information, I will substantially increase our understanding on how biodiversity, both in terms of richness and niches, is generated.


Net EU contribution
€ 184 707,84
45, rue d'ulm
75230 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00