Spatial distribution modelling for biodiversity hotspots
Pio supervised by Prof. Antoine Guisan & Dr Nicolas Salamin
University of Lausanne, Department of Ecology and Evolution
Hotspots are sanctuaries of biodiversity. Yet, with global change, many species are committed to extinction and preservation plans need to be established. What do we want to preserve most? The largest number of species or the largest number of genes or characters? The main aim of this project is to investigate the relationship between species richness (number of species) and phylogenetic diversity (a measure of diversity which takes into account the genetic relatedness between species) in biodiversity hotspots. Currently conservation areas are often selected on the basis of the number of species present, and their level of rarity or endemicity. Yet, species richness may not be the best surrogate for all aspects of biodiversity, such as phylogenetic diversity, as species are not equivalent in terms of the evolutionary history they represent. Do rich communities also contain larger amounts of phylogenetic diversity or not? How are patterns of phylogenetic diversity affected by species sorting, e.g. simulating the sequential disappearance of species (extinctions)?
I plan to answer these questions by using datasets on particularly diverse plant communities in the Mediterranean and South African regions, and collecting data on bat assemblages (one of the greatest contributor to mammal diversity worldwide) in Sumatra, Indonesia.
I will use a combination of spatial modeling and phylogenetic techniques to analyze both botanical and zoological datasets.