Dimensions of Biodiversity


How Historical Constraints, Local Adaptation, and Species Interactions Shape Biodiversity Across an Ancient Floristic Disjunction

ChinaBiodiversity is multidimensional, composed of genetic, phenotypic, ecological, and geographic variation within and among species. Less frequently considered is the role of evolutionary history in shaping current patterns of biodiversity. That is, how does history constrain or enhance biodiversity? The forests of eastern Asia and eastern North America were anciently connected and have a shared evolutionary and ecological history; they therefore offer an excellent opportunity to study the drivers of biodiversity across geographic space and through evolutionary time. Within forests, plants grow in association with soil bacteria and fungi (collectively referred to as microbes), but little is known about how these associations vary within and among forests and how they generate biodiversity. Do forests in the eastern US and eastern China share evolutionary and ecological features that trace to their common ancestry, or have they followed separate paths since they diverged million of years ago? Do plants and microbes reveal the same patterns, suggesting their histories remain tightly linked, or do these patterns vary geographically? This project is a collaboration between US and Chinese scientists who are conducting novel analyses of plant and microbial diversity in forests in the US and China to discover those factors that shape biodiversity through space and time.


Dimensions of Biodiversity

Graphical overview of project
Overview of the proposed project, showing the EA-ENA floristic disjunction (center) and the role of phylogenetic methodology in integrating data on plant, microbial, and functional diversity. Top: Phylogenetic analyses of selected plant genera (trees in shades of green, with leaf icons) will resolve relationships among species from EA and ENA and provide the backdrop for subsequent analyses. Phylogenetic analyses of microbial diversity (trees in shades of orange, with bacterial icons) will identify whether the geological events that shaped the north temperate flora also affected the distribution of microbial diversity. Co-diversification analyses will evaluate whether or not microbial phylogenies track plant phylogenies. Bottom: Community phylogenetics at each site in EA and ENA will document patterns of alpha and beta phylogenetic diversity within and between disjunct regions and provide the framework for analyses of microbial function (represented by N+ and N- to indicate variation in nitrogen-fixing bacteria) and plant functional traits (represented by variation in leaf icons) in relation to community structure.

Genetic and Phylogenetic Diversity sampling at Talladega

Functional Diversity

Microbial Diversity

Climate Change