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From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Moving Forward in Macroecology: Process and History


12pm - 1pm Thursday 23 February 2012

Sir George Fisher Building Conference Room #114 (DB32 upstairs)
Sally A. Keith,  ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville


Abstract:  Macroecology is the study of ecological patterns observed at large spatial and temporal scales. Traditionally, macroecological analysis has tended to focus on pattern identification and description, with potential explanations often sought through correlation of those patterns with environmental variables. This has offered some important and useful insights regarding the causes of large-scale patterns, but has important shortcomings. For example, two key limitations are: (1) difficulty in disentangling specific processes that generate and maintain species diversity, and (2) the assumption that species are in equilibrium with, and are distributed according to, current environmental conditions. Here I focus on progressing these two areas of macroecology. First, we have developed a process-based model that explicitly attempts to recreate mid-domain effects in species richness gradients through incorporation of diversity-dependent colonization and extinction. This consideration of whether interspecific interactions can influence macroecological patterns represents a theoretical development because it has largely been assumed to be unimportant at this scale and as a result has remained relatively unexplored. Secondly, we have quantitatively identified broad biogeographic regions based upon coral species diversity throughout the Indo-Pacific and sought to explain these patterns using life history traits and historical biogeography.

Biography:  Sally is from the UK and studied for her BSc in Zoology at the University of Southampton, MSc in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University, and most recently completed her PhD at Bournemouth University on the impacts of environmental change on ecological communities. Sally’s research focuses on testing and developing macroecological and biogeographical theory through the use of models and empirical data. Models aim to explore the generation and maintenance of macroecological patterns, with particular focus on extinction and colonization dynamics.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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