Evolutionary Origin of Biodiversity Hotspots with a Mediterranean Climate (HOTMED) (project completed 2008)
Understanding the origin of species richness in Earth's biodiversity hotspots is vital to develop effective conservation strategies. For a long time, conservation research has focused largely on processes at the population or species level. The importance of deeper time history of modern biota is now accepted and phylogenies are being recognised as valuable tools for prioritization decisions in conservation planning. Incorporating information from past biodiversity (i.e. fossil evidence) to understand how it has responded to climate change in the past is essential to predict how modern biodiversity might evolve in the future. Among the recognised hotspots of biodiversity on Earth, all five main regions with a Mediterranean climate are included: The California Floristic Province; Central Chile; The Mediterranean Basin; The Cape Floristic Region and Southwest Australia.
This project focused on and compared the evolutionary history of the three Mediterranean hotspots located in the Southern Hemisphere (Southwest Australia, the Cape Floristic Region, Central Chile) using a particularly well-suited plant group (Proteaceae) that is shared by the three regions and has diversified remarkably in two of them.
The project benefited from a grant from the European Commission and ran until 2008. During this time, Dr Herve Sauquet spent time between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney and RBG Kew to help achieve the project objectives: (a) to build a palaeo-morphology database and supertree for Proteaceae and (b) to use these data to better understand the origin of hotspots with a Mediterranean climate.
Sauquet, H., Weston, P.H., Barker, N.P., Anderson, C.L.,Cantrill, D.J. & Savolainen, V. (2009). Using fossils and molecular data to reveal the origins of the Cape proteas (subfamily Proteoideae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 51: 31-43.
Sauquet, H, Weston, P.H., Anderson, C.L., Barker, N.P., Cantrill, D.J., Mast, A.R. & Savolainen, V. (2009). Contrasted patterns of hyperdiversification in Mediterranean hotspots. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106: 221-225.
Project partners and collaborators
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
University of Queensland
University of Tasmania
University of Witwatersrand