Phylogenetic Analysis of Trait Evolution
These researchers study the evolution of traits that influence chances of speciation and extinction. Plant mating system is one such trait, because it strongly affects population sizes and distributions of genetic diversity. Geographic range is another such trait because geologic, climatic, and biotic conditions all affect population size and subdivision. Other traits are often associated with these, and it can be challenging to identify the particular traits or trait combinations that most directly affect speciation and extinction.
This work typically involves two phases of analysis, each of which can be computationally intensive for groups of more than, say, a thousand species. First is constructing a phylogeny of living species from DNA sequence data. Second is fitting models of trait evolution, speciation, and extinction to those phylogenies. Such analyses are easily parallelized, especially when conducted in a Bayesian statistical framework, and so the researchers can readily make use of MSI's cluster resources.
Return to this PI's main page.