Lifemapper Range and Diversity
LmRAD is developing web data and analysis services for populating multispecies geospatial data grids for macroecological analysis. To accomplish this task, Lifemapper is building on the infrastructure and protocols built for niche modeling and expanding them to filter, aggregate, build, and validate multispecies grid data sets. These multispecies data grids are the starting point for macroecological analyses. The LmRAD project will unleash massive amounts of species occurrence data, ecological niche models and tools for macroecological research.
Macroecology is a subfield of ecology that investigates the evolutionary, genetic, and ecological determinants of species diversity and distribution on large spatial scales, typically at the level of continents or the entire globe. Timely and relevant research questions being addressed and supported by the LmRAD infrastructure include:
- How does environmental change (climate and land-use) affect biodiversity? Is it possible to forecast when and where extinction/speciation will occur? Why are some taxonomic groups more sensitive or resilient to environmental change?
- How do biodiversity patterns vary across continents and taxonomic groups? What are the environmental, ecological and evolutionary causes of this variation? Do mechanisms that drive biodiversity patterns change across space? Are there exceptions to the global pattern of a decrease in species richness towards higher latitudes?
- How does the spatial scale (geographic extent and resolution) of analysis affect the way patterns of biodiversity are detected? Are there different optimum scales for different research questions?
- What insights emerge when geographic patterns of biodiversity are deconstructed according to taxonomic (from genus to higher ranks), evolutionary (by clade branching depths), or life history (frugivores, nocturnal, long distance dispersals) traits?
- Where should biodiversity conservation units be established, in the context of climate change and land use demands and patterns? Which parameters should guide conservation planning in the face of a changing world? Should conservation efforts be directed towards rare/threatened species, hotspots of biodiversity, or centers of endemism?
LmRAD is a collaboration with Drs. R. Colwell of the University of Connecticut and T. Rangel of the Universidade Federal de Goias, Brazil.