Environmental change and biogeography

RBGE's biogeographic research can be divided into three broad, inter-related themes:

Plant biodiversity is being impacted on an unprecedented scale by humans. Over geological timescales, plants have faced significant environmental changes such as ice age climates, fluctuations in sea level, the building of mountain chains and the movement of continents. Our research deciphers the effects of these historical changes on plant species evolution, extinction and distribution. This helps predict the effects of future environmental changes, and provides a fascinating historical understanding of some of the world's richest tropical ecosystems.

Key tools for this new research are phylogenetic trees derived from DNA sequence data calibrated with a dimension of time. Our taxonomic focus on species-rich, widely distributed tropical genera, and inventory programmes in diverse ecosystems provides us with ideal study materials.

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Inga: a case of recent and rapid generation of species richness in the Neotropics (see Richardson et al. (2001) Science 293: 2242-2245).

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)