Afrikanische Elefanten

Emmy Noether Nachwuchsgruppe ‚Makroevolution von Vögeln und Säugetieren‘

Forschung


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Our research group works on integrative questions across macroevolution, macroecology, biogeography, and paleontology (see main page for general description). Below, we provide more detail on the four main themes of our research and links to selected publications.

Bilder Susanne Fritz

Macroevolution of ecological niches and seasonal migration in birds

In this research theme, we primarily investigate the evolutionary and ecological processes that shape species` ecological niches across multiple species. The ecological niche is a concept describing all abiotic and biotic conditions where a species can survive and reproduce. In particular, we study the climatic niche, which describes the climatic conditions that a species can be found in and is particularly relevant for projecting the responses of species to ongoing and future climate change. We also investigate niche partitioning among species using ecomorphological traits; these are morphological adaptations that are important for species’ ecology, such as wing shape for flight performance or beak shape for diet.

Our recent work has focused on comparing migratory and sedentary species of birds, because these experience vastly different climatic conditions throughout the year. Key questions include: Do migratory species track their climatic niches when they move from breeding to wintering areas and vice versa? Is climatic niche evolution across migratory and sedentary birds linked to paleo-climatic conditions? How do ecomorphological traits evolve, and is trait evolution linked to the evolution of climatic niches and the evolution of migratory behaviour?

Team: Dr. Alison Eyres, Dr. Susanne Fritz

Selected publications

A. G. Phillips, T. Töpfer, K. Böhning-Gaese, S. A. Fritz (2020) Rates of ecomorphological trait evolution in passerine bird clades are independent of age. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 129: 543–557.

A. G. Phillips, T. Töpfer, K. Böhning-Gaese, S. A. Fritz (2018) Evidence for distinct evolutionary optima in the morphology of migratory and resident birds. Journal of Avian Biology 49: e01807.

A. G. Phillips, T. Töpfer, C. Rahbek, K. Böhning-Gaese, S. A. Fritz (2018) Effects of phylogeny and geography on ecomorphological traits in passerine bird clades. Journal of Biogeography 45: 2337-2347.

A. Eyres, K. Böhning-Gaese, S. A. Fritz (2017): Quantification of climatic niches in birds: adding the temporal dimension. Journal of Avian Biology 48: 1517-1531.

K. A. Jønsson, P.-H. Fabre, S. A. Fritz, R. S. Etienne, R. E. Ricklefs, T. B. Jørgensen, J. Fjeldså, C. Rahbek, P. G. P. Ericson, F. Woog, E. Pasquet, M. Irestedt (2012) Ecological and evolutionary determinants for the adaptive radiation of the Madagascan vangas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109: 6620-6625.

Bilder Susanne Fritz

Diversity in time and space: integrating across fossil and living mammalian species

This research topic focuses on the evolution and ecology of large mammals through the Cenozoic until today. Here, we bring together paleontological and geological data on past environmental conditions and extinct species with present-day data on the current environment and living species. Recent work has focussed on the excellent fossil record of large mammals in the Northern Hemisphere, contrasting the Neogene (approximately 23-2 million years ago) to today.

Such comparisons enable us to assess the stability of ecological relationships over geological timescales, to understand the evolutionary history underlying present-day diversity, and to generate a deep-time baseline for measuring the consequences of Anthropocene biodiversity loss. How do diversity patterns in time and space depend on abiotic drivers such as climate, or on anthropogenic drivers like land use? How do traits evolve and change through time, and how is trait evolution influenced by environmental changes?

Team: Dr. Susanne Fritz, Dr. Shan Huang

Selected publications

S. Huang, M. J. M. Meijers, A. Eyres, A. Mulch, S. A. Fritz (2019) Unravelling the history of biodiversity in mountain ranges through integrating geology and biogeography. Journal of Biogeography 46: 1777-1791.

S. Huang, J. T. Eronen, C. M. Janis, J. J. Saarinen, D. Silvestro, S. A. Fritz (2017). Mammal body size evolution in North America and Europe over 20 Myr: similar trends generated by different processes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284: 20162361.

S. A. Fritz, J. T. Eronen, J. Schnitzler, C. Hof, C. M. Janis, A. Mulch, K. Böhning-Gaese, C. H. Graham (2016). Twenty-million-year relationship between mammalian diversity and primary productivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113: 10908-10913.

S. A. Fritz, J. Schnitzler, J. T. Eronen, C. Hof, K. Böhning-Gaese, C. H. Graham (2013) Diversity in time and space: wanted dead and alive. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28: 509-516.

Bilder Susanne Fritz

Macroevolution, macroecology, and biogeography – the big picture

In this research theme, we investigate the effects of evolutionary history, species’ traits, and current and past environmental variation on present-day global or regional patterns of biodiversity. These studies span from empirical analyses of terrestrial vertebrates to conceptual work on how to integrate phylogenetic and spatial information. We also work with geoscientists to investigate the underlying drivers of large-scale diversity patterns, in particular mountain building and climate change.

Key questions include: Why are some regions so much more species-rich than others? What are the effects of mountain building and climate change on diversity dynamics in time and space? How much influence does evolutionary history have on present-day diversity patterns, e.g. signatures of speciation and extinction processes? And how much have paleo-environmental changes shaped present-day diversity patterns?

Team: Dr. Susanne Fritz, Dr. Shan Huang, Dr. Alke Voskamp

Selected publications

B. G. Holt, F. G. Marx, S. A. Fritz, J.-P. Lessard, C. Rahbek (2020) Evolutionary diversification in the marine realm: a global case study with marine mammals. Frontiers of Biogeography 12: e45184.

P. J. Leitão, C. J. Andrew, E. K. Engelhardt, C. H. Graham, C. Martinez‐Almoyna, A. Mimet, S. Pinkert, B. Schröder, A. Voskamp, C. Hof, S. A. Fritz (2020) Macroecology as a hub between research disciplines: Opportunities, challenges and possible ways forward. Journal of Biogeography 47: 13-15.

M. Pontarp, L. Bunnefeld, J. S. Cabral, R. S. Etienne, S. A. Fritz, R. Gillespie, C. H. Graham, O. Hagen, F. Hartig, S. Huang, R. Jansson, O. Maliet, T. Münkemüller, L. Pellissier, T. F. Rangel, D. Storch, T. Wiegand, A. H. Hurlbert (2019) The latitudinal diversity gradient: novel understanding through mechanistic eco-evolutionary models. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 34: 211-223.

A. Antonelli, W. D. Kissling, S. G. A. Flantua, M. A. Bermúdez, A. Mulch, A. N. Muellner-Riehl, H. Kreft, H. P. Linder, C. Badgley, J. Fjeldså, S. A. Fritz, C. Rahbek, F. Herman, H. Hooghiemstra, C. Hoorn (2018) Geological and climatic influences on mountain biodiversity. Nature Geoscience 11: 718-725.

B. G. Holt, J.-P. Lessard, M. K. Borregaard, S. A. Fritz, M. B. Araújo, D. Dimitrov, P.-H. Fabre, C. H. Graham, G. R. Graves, K. A. Jønsson, D. Nogués-Bravo, Z. Wang, R. J. Whittaker, J. Fjeldså, C. Rahbek (2013) An update of Wallace’s zoogeographic regions of the world. Science 339: 74-78.

Bilder Susanne Fritz
Bilder Susanne Fritz

Past, current, and future human impacts on biodiversity

Our research in this theme investigates human impacts on biodiversity today, contrasts these with a deep-time perspective, and generates future projections of biodiversity. Human impacts have changed through the Anthropocene, from subsistence hunting and extensive agriculture through modern industrial fishing and intensive land use to future impacts of anthropogenic climate change. Our research spans across these topics, e.g. assessments of how Anthropocene biodiversity loss has changed ecological relationships over geological timescales, or projections of species’ geographic distributions under future climate and land-use change.

Key questions include: Why are some species and clades more threatened than others? How do anthropogenic threats interact with biological differences in susceptibility due to species’ ecology and traits? How will the spatial distribution of diversity change under future climate and land-use change? Which species traits are commonly associated with high extinction risk from habitat loss, climate change, or overexploitation?

Team: Dr. Susanne Fritz, Larissa Nowak, Dr. Alke Voskamp

Selected publications

M. Schleuning, E. L. Neuschulz, J. Albrecht, I. M.A. Bender, D. E. Bowler, D. M. Dehling, S. A. Fritz, C. Hof, T. Mueller, L. Nowak, M. C. Sorensen, K. Böhning-Gaese, W. D. Kissling (2020) Trait-based assessments of climate-change impacts on interacting species. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 35: 319-328.

C. Hof, A. Voskamp, M. Biber, K. Böhning-Gaese, E. K. Engelhardt, A. Niamir, S. G. Willis, T. Hickler (2018) Bioenergy cropland expansion may offset positive effects of climate change mitigation for global vertebrate diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115: 13294-13299.

M. A. Tucker, K. Böhning-Gaese, W. F. Fagan, J. M. Fryxell, B. Van Moorter, …, S. A. Fritz, …, T. Mueller (2018). Moving in the Anthropocene: Global reductions in terrestrial mammalian movements. Science 359: 466-469.

S. A. Fritz, J. T. Eronen, J. Schnitzler, C. Hof, C. M. Janis, A. Mulch, K. Böhning-Gaese, C. H. Graham (2016). Twenty-million-year relationship between mammalian diversity and primary productivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113: 10908-10913.

S. T. Turvey, S. A. Fritz (2011) The ghosts of mammals past: biological and geographical patterns of global mammalian extinction across the Holocene. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 366: 2564-2576.