Data integration for inferring biogeographic history


Understanding the past distributions, location of glacial refugia, changes in abundance and rates and timing of migration is a central focus of biogeography. To date, inferences about species’ biogeographic histories have relied on data from fossil pollen, DNA, or occurrences, which are respectively analyses using pollen-vegetation models, cluster analysis, and species distribution modeling. Although small steps have been taken toward integrating these data types and their respective methods of analysis, almost all integrations to date have been “by eye,” meaning researchers compare results in an informal manner. Colleagues Sean Hoban and Alissa Brown (Morton Arboretum), Andria Dawson (Mount Royal University), John Robinson (Michigan State University), and Allan Strand (College of Charleston), and I are developing a statistically robust framework to formal integrate these lines of evidence and provide not only estimates of biogeographic history but also uncertainty bounds around them.

Sponsored by: National Science Foundation

Example publications:

Hoban, S., Dawson, A. Robinson, J., Smith, A.B., Strand, A. 2019. Inference of biogeographic history by formally integrating distinct lines of evidence: genetic, environmental niche, and fossil. Ecography 42:1991-2011. open access | Runner-up for Ecography’s E4 Award