(Evolutionary) Macroecology


We are interested in all things “macroecological”. Macroecology is a synthetic research program that seeks to understand the emergent, statistical properties of complex ecological systems (e.g. ecological communities, complete biotas, biodiversity patterns) at broad spatial and temporal scales. We are particularly interested in macroecological research owing to its integration between ecology and biogeography, considering processes at different scales, in order to explain geographic biodiversity patterns. Under this research program, we have described and evaluated species richness gradients considering the inherent relationship between diversity and distribution. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of geographic biodiversity patterns should include site-based and species-based approaches (e.g. Villalobos and Arita 2010 GEB; Villalobos et al. 2014 BAE). We also continue to investigate “traditional” macroecological patterns such as those looking at richness differences among regions and relating them to the environment and history of such regions (e.g. Gouveia, Villalobos et al. 2014 JAE; Arita, Vargas and Villalobos 2014 Ecography) as well as the drivers that determine geographic range size variations (Carvajal-Quintero et al. 2019 PNAS, Olalla-Tárraga et al. 2019 GEB). Most macroecological research requires large amounts of data and particular tools to handle and analyze such data. In order to help in this endeavour, we continuously work in collaboration with other colleagues to develop and contribute useful tools for conducting macroecological research (e.g. letsR package in R; Vilela & Villalobos 2015 MEE).

Currently, we usually include phylogenetic/macroevolutionary approaches to understand geographic gradients of biodiversity and related macroecological patterns (e.g. ecogeographic rules; Villalobos et al. 2017 EvolEcolRes). More especifically, we try to test evolutionary hypotheses (Alves et al. 2017 BJLS) and processes driving biodiversity patterns (García-Andrade et al. 2021 GEB, Pinto-Ledezma et al. 2019 AmNat) as well as trait evolution such as Grinnellian niches (Peixoto et al. 2017 GEB, Bandeira et al. 2021) and their limits (Bennett et al. 2021 NatComms). In addition, we also touch upon the “paleontological macroecology” (Diniz-Filho et al. 2013) approach, using fossils to study the temporal dynamics of geographic biodiversity patterns (Villalobos et al. 2016 PTRSB). You can find a (non-systematic) review of macroecological approaches to study evolutionary diversification under a geographic perspective in Villalobos et al. 2020 (In: Rull V., Carnaval A. (eds) Neotropical Diversification: Patterns and Processes. Springer).

Evolutionary Macroecology Lab
Evolutionary Macroecology Lab

Our research interests include biodiversity patterns in space and time.