Linking the past, present and future of biodiversity


Photo: Chien C. Lee

The astounding biological diversity we see on our planet is a result of a long and complex evolutionary history. Today this multiplicity of living forms, a critical measure of ecological health, is maintained by countless interactions between billions of organisms representing millions of distinct species, which form sophisticated communities increasingly affected by human activities. Understanding the origin of biodiversity and revealing mechanisms both intrinsic (genetic) and extrinsic (environmental) that generate it will be crucial for our ability to preserve biodiversity for future generations and to better integrate an expanding human population with nature. Research methods aimed at studying biodiversity including palaeobiology, developmental and evolutionary biology, population genetics and biogeography will provide us with new and deeper insight into the nature of biodiversity, and inform us how to more effectively deal with related issues such as species extinction, habitat change, invasive species and the consequences of the loss of biodiversity on agriculture and human health.

Dr Arkhat Abzhanov  Studies on evolutionary developmental biology using chicken embryos and mouse mutants, evolutionary developmental studies, for example, Darwin's Finches and their relatives from Caribbean Islands, as well as other birds, reptiles, both squamates (e.g. Anolis lizards), and archosaurs, such as alligators.
Dr Brian Hollis   I study sexual selection and sexual conflict using experimental evolution, primarily with the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster
Prof Vincent Savolainen His research group combines field ecology, molecular phylogenetics, and population genomic approaches to help explain the origin of biodiversity and, where possible, find solutions for its preservation in a rapidly changing world.
Summary of the table's contents