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Title: Environmental niche evolution and ancestral niche reconstruction
Author: Milne, Margaret Georgina
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 0622
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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Quantifying the diversity and distribution of the world’s biota in both space and time is a fundamental goal of modern biology, however ecologists also face the added pressure of understanding how species may respond to anthropogenically driven environmental changes. The relationship between species distributions and the environment can be captured in Environmental Niche Models (ENM’s), which create mathematical models linking species occurrences to ecological factors at a specific point in time. Whilst this approach is very useful, it can be improved by the incorporation of phylogenetic data (with estimated species divergence dates) to explore how the environmental niche has changed for a whole clade through evolutionary time. This thesis aims to explore whether niches are conserved over the life history for individual species, and for entire genera through evolutionary time. The research aims to firstly improve the current iteration of the Coleopteran Mutual Climatic Range (MCR) approach by automating the climate envelope creation process; secondly, to determine whether the expression of the realised climate niche has changed for four members of the Staphylinid Olophrum genus through the Quaternary and thirdly, to create a historical bio-geographical model indicating the likely mode of evolution between sister-taxa in the Dytiscidae Hydroporus genus. Lastly, the ancestral climatic niche of the Hydroporus genus is modelled in order to determine any patterns in climate niche evolution. This is achieved by bringing together phylogenetic data, occurrence data and environmental data under a Bayesian analysis framework to reconstruct the values for environmental niche traits at internal nodes in a phylogenetic tree.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available