What do we do?
At the Computational Phylogenetics Group we develop software to better understand the evolutionary history between organisms and to test macroevolutionary hypotheses. We are looking at the ecological, genomic and morphological factors that limit and constrain speciation and adaptation. We focus on phylogenetic reconstruction methods, clownfish and plant genomics, the estimation of positive selection on genes, modelling the evolution of DNA sequences and phenotypes, the mode and tempo of species evolution and the spatially explicit evolution of diversity. Our aim is to develop better models to analyse sequence data and quantitative models to estimate macroevolutionary patterns and processes.
The group is developing new ways to estimate the rate of species evolution by using complex Bayesian approaches. These developments are important to understand the factors that influence the emergence and extinction of species over time and the evolution of their phenotypic traits. The method was implemented into a R software called Jive. The models implemented in Jive were extended by developing a novel Bayesian approach that can estimate the rate of evolution of a quantitative trait and its variance along a phylogenetic tree. Such an approach is very flexible and the group incorporated several models to fully account for the heterogeneity in the tempo of species evolution. This allows for shifts in the rates of traits evolution, assess the phylogenetic effects on the evolution of those traits.
The models fully complement existing approaches and are currently used to estimate the evolution of several groups of animals (e.g. mammals, birds or clownfish) or the evolution of floral morphologies in key groups of angiosperms.
Main publications 2016
- Kostikova A et al. Bridging Inter- and Intraspecific Trait Evolution with a Hierarchical Bayesian Approach. Syst Biol 2016; 65: 417-431
- Roland J and Salamin N. Niche width impacts vertebrate diversification. Global Ecol Biogeo 2016; 10: 1252-1263
- Roland J et al. Molecular evolutionary rates are not correlated with temperature and latitude in Squamata: an exception to the metabolic theory of ecology? BMC Evol Biol 2016; 16:95