Climate and large-scale patterns of diversity

Friday seminar by Carsten Rahbek.



Despite two centuries of exploration our understanding of factors determining the distribution of life on Earth is in many ways still in its infancy. This is partly due to an inappropriate statistical approach to testing diversity hypotheses, where we have relied on correlative approaches to infer causality and a naïve acceptance of poor quality distribution and climate data as error-less data in our models, causing perpetual controversy. Nevertheless, the repeated finding of high statistical correlations between species distribution or species diversity and contemporary climate has generated a belief that species distribution and diversity are determined by and in absolute equilibrium with contemporary climate. However, a closer examination of the results and the main assumptions of most climate-change-diversity-models reveal that our current understanding of the effect (mechanisms) of climate on species distribution and species diversity is very limited. The lack of significant progress in understanding how climate impact large-scale patterns of species richness have also been due to a misleading assumption that patterns and mechanisms are range-size and scale invariant leading to unidirectional biases in hypothesis testing of diversity models, which can cause favoring, wrongly, certain (climate related) hypothesis over competing hypothesis. Overall, the talk will present results that will illuminate that our understanding of the role of contemporary climate on species richness patterns is perhaps less powerful than anticipated.

Professor, Dr. Carsten Rahbek
Director NSF Center for Macroecology and Evolution
Editor-in-Chief of Ecography
Institute of Biology, University of Copenhagen

Other information
The CEES seminar room has a coffee-machine – it is therefore recommended that you come a bit earlier and get yourself a good cup of coffee (for the price of 3 NOK).

Published Feb. 2, 2012 3:51 PM - Last modified Oct. 10, 2014 4:18 PM