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”

Satellite images to understand the diversity of minute insects

We use landscape data to understand spatial patterns of diversity of one of the smallest groups of insects: thrips. The study was performed in Reunion island, a small volcanic island of the Indian Ocean. The dramatic changes in elevation, abiotic conditions and anthropisation allowed us to explore multiple variables affecting diversity revealing why, despite moreContinue reading “Satellite images to understand the diversity of minute insects”

Dimensions of amphibian alpha diversity in the New World

Local biological diversity, also known as alpha diversity, has three different components: the number of species in a given area (taxonomic diversity), the number of distinct traits that these species have (functional diversity) and their evolutionary distinctiveness (phylogenetic diversity). The relationships among these components of diversity vary across geography reflecting the differences in eco-evolutionary processesContinue reading “Dimensions of amphibian alpha diversity in the New World”

The mystery of ‘low gear’ locomotion

Mouse-goats, ‘demons of the forest’, and other insular bovids have short and robust limbs. Why?  The ‘low gear’ hypothesis had never been tested until we decided to fill this gap with a quantitative investigation of the causal forces influencing the acquisition of this peculiar type of locomotion. Above: Skulls of a tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), aContinue reading “The mystery of ‘low gear’ locomotion”