Biogeography of Biomes
The geographic and evolutionary history of biomes
Our biogeographic work on threatened biomes adds an evolutionary dimension to their conservation. Using DNA sequences to reconstruct evolutionary and biogeographic histories, we ask key questions, including: how old are the species in a biome, and how much evolutionary diversity is found in a biome? The answers help us determine if biomes can be considered as museums of ancient species, or crucibles of ongoing evolution, and how much unique diversity will be lost if an entire biome is destroyed. Understanding how biomes and their species responded to past environmental change is key to predicting their fate under future climates.
DryFlor: The Latin American Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest Floristic Network (DryFlor) is a network of researchers and conservationists aiming to improve the understanding of the flora and to promote the conservation of the endangered seasonally dry tropical forests of Latin America. Led by Toby Pennington.
Amazon Checklist: The world's largest rainforest plays a vital role in regulating the world's climate. RBGE scientist Tiina Särkinen co-led the first publication detailing the species found within this iconic biome, a key step in understanding its evolutionary history and how it may respond to future change.
Paramo: We have demonstrated that this high Andean biome has the fastest speciation rate on earth. It is threated by climate change, agricultural expansion and mining. Led by James Richardson.
Lowland Rainforest: We study the impact of key geological events such as the uplift of the Andes and the closure of the Isthmus of Panama on lowland rainforest taxa such as Sapotaceae, Theobroma (Malvaceae) and legumes. Led by James Richardson.
Cloud Forest: RBGE focus groups such as Zingiberaceae, Gesneriaceae and Begonia are well-represented in montane forest. We study the evolution of these groups, particularly in northwestern South America. Led by James Richardson.
The front cover of the prestigious journal Science, highlighting RBGE's work on Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests