Emmy Noether Junior Research Group
Macroevolution of Birds and Mammals
A fundamental question
How has the amazing diversity of life on Earth evolved, and what shapes diversity patterns through time and in space? The first question is at the centre of macroevolution, a discipline of biology that investigates speciation, extinction, and the evolution of species’ traits over long timescales (usually millions of years). The second question lies at the intersection of macroevolution with macroecology and biogeography, with the latter two scientific fields studying the ecology and the geographic distributions of species, higher taxa, and their traits on large spatial scales. Our research uses integrative approaches to address both questions focussing on terrestrial vertebrates, in particular mammals and birds.
An integrative approach
To understand the variation of diversity in species, higher taxa, and their traits across time and space, we investigate a broad range of topics, bringing together large-scale biogeographical, macroecological and macroevolutionary patterns to infer underlying mechanisms. We compile and synthesize large databases of the fossil record as well as on living taxa, particularly data gathered from preserved specimen in museum collections, public data resources, and literature mining that encompass species’ traits, geographic and stratigraphic occurrences, and phylogenetic relationships among organisms. Our research integrates methods across various disciplines, such as statistical and modelling tools commonly applied in paleontology as well as neontological macroecology and macroevolution.
A diverse research group
We are a diverse group of biologists and work closely with geoscientists to identify potential environmental drivers of biodiversity dynamics, such as climate change, mountain building, and increasing human impacts through the Anthropocene. Our goal is to learn from the past by studying the evolutionary history underlying present-day diversity patterns in relation to their abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic drivers, in order to improve projections of future biodiversity in a world increasingly dominated by humans.
For more information on our research and highlighted publications, see here. Our research contributes to the Senckenberg research fields Biodiversity and Climate and Biodiversity, Systematics and Evolution, in particular the research activities Geobiodiversity and Climate and Biogeography.