Life in the “dead heart” of Australia

It was the desolation of Australia’s deserts and dried-up rivers, contrasted with the fossil legacy of giant extinct marsupials and birds, that led the British explorer JW Gregory to label this region ‘the dead heart of Australia’. In fact, despite its harsh and unforgiving climate, the Australian deserts are teeming with life. Above: The redContinue reading “Life in the “dead heart” of Australia”

Hotspots and diversity patterns of Arabian squamate reptiles

While some areas of the world are renowned for their high diversity of life, such as the tropics, others, such as deserts, are generally perceived as deprived of diversity. This is, however, very far from the truth. Above: The Saudi Dwarf Gecko, Tropiocolotes wolfgangboehmei, whose phylogenetic position was unknown until our study. Picture by AlContinue reading “Hotspots and diversity patterns of Arabian squamate reptiles”

Connections between ploidy and environment in South American frogs

Polyploid frogs occur mainly in the SE corner of South America to the apparent exclusion of closely related diploids, a trend that persists across genera. Above: Occurrences and range maps of all the frogs included in the study, grouped by genus and colored by ploidy Genome duplications are one of the most extreme mutations thatContinue reading “Connections between ploidy and environment in South American frogs”

Different paths of success in the sea – what we can learn from seaweeds

Closely related clades of brown marine seaweeds display different patterns of geographical distributions and diversifications. Above: Meadow of the brown seaweed Lobophora in the Canary Islands. Photograph by Jan Ranson In studying the factors and processes structuring marine biodiversity and distribution patterns, an unconscious (perhaps inevitable) bias towards animals vs. seaweeds is often reflected inContinue reading “Different paths of success in the sea – what we can learn from seaweeds”

Speciation research in Bombina: a 40 years story

Hybrid zones can be abrupt and leaky Above: From the cover: Fire‐bellied toad (Bombina bombina) from southern Poland, where they form a famous hybrid zone with their sister species the yellow‐bellied toad (Bombina variegata). Photo credit: Christophe Dufresnes. I was not even born when Jacek Szymura and Nick Barton initiated their pioneering research on theContinue reading “Speciation research in Bombina: a 40 years story”

ECR Feature: Audrey M. Prasetya on environmental correlates of carotenoid plumage colouration in birds

Audrey Miranda Prasetya is a PhD student at the Australian National University. She is a biogeographer interested in studying the evolutionary history of birds. Audrey shares her recent work on environmental factors that potentially drive the distribution of carotenoid-based plumage colouration in Australian passerine birds. Presenting my honours research at the International Conference for UndergraduateContinue reading “ECR Feature: Audrey M. Prasetya on environmental correlates of carotenoid plumage colouration in birds”

Moving beyond species richness: Ecorichness

A new species-based metric for island biogeography Above: The response of the new metric ‘ecorichness’ to island area for terrestrial isopods of central Aegean islands. Size of dots is proportional to the number of habitats of each island. Habitat diversity, as an estimate of environmental heterogeneity, has been considered among the main factors shaping patternsContinue reading “Moving beyond species richness: Ecorichness”

Responses of red deer to climatic oscillations

During the last 54 000 years, the range of red deer in Europe and the Ural Mountains changed in response to climate oscillations, generally decreasing in cooler periods and expanding in warmer periods, largely in agreement with the Expansion-Contraction model. However, these processes were asynchronous and differed in western and central regions when compared to easternContinue reading “Responses of red deer to climatic oscillations”

Miocene diversification of mountain loaches

How ancient river systems, geological barriers and climatic changes in the Western Ghats influenced speciation of balitorid loaches Of the many endemic and evolutionarily distinct freshwater fish lineages of the Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot, the mountain loach genus Bhavania comprises a biogeographically fascinating group. Its morphological similarities to the sucker-loaches of Indo-China and Sunda IslandsContinue reading “Miocene diversification of mountain loaches”

Recovering palaeo-distributions from rock art

Corroborating, refining, or refuting species’ modelled historical distributions can require innovation in datatypes and the synthesis of diverse kinds of information from sometimes unexpected sources. Ecological niche and species distribution models are tools currently applied in several fields of biology and other disciplines. These models use algorithms to correlate species presence data with environmental layersContinue reading “Recovering palaeo-distributions from rock art”