GORP (genetics-occurrence-rhizosphere-phenotype)

We are very happy to partner with collaborators at Kansas State University and the University of Kansas to study the interdependence between the occurrence, phenotype, genotype, and rhizosphere (soil microbes) of a dominant tallgrass prairie plant, Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)! This is a project funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food …
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Shortlisted on The Wildlife Society’s 2020 Wildlife Publication Awards!

Our paper on spatially-varying controls of pika distributions was shortlisted (of 5 papers) by The Wildlife Society! This is a triennial award with a record number of submissions, so we’re honored, regardless of the final outcome. Smith, A.B., Beever, E.A., Kessler, A.E., Johnston, A.N., Ray, C., Epps, C.W., Lanier, H.C., Klinger, R.C., Rodhouse, T.J., Varner, …
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The decimation of Madagascar’s rainforest habitat

It is honestly with sadness that I announce our new publication on the fate of Madagscar’s rainforest habitat in Nature Climate Change. Modeling deforestation assuming the lowest rate of deforestation across the period 2000-2014, I could only get the rainforest to last to the 2070s… and the highest rate of loss occurred in 2018, outside …
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Runner-up in Ecography’s E4 Award!

Our article on formal integration of different lines of biogeographic evidence (genetic, pollen, occurrence) won runner-up in annual Ecography’s E4 Award! 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)

Climate coherency

After many long years of battling data bottlenecks, I am ecstatic to announce the publication of our paper on intraspecific variation in responses of pikas to climate change. To our great surprise, dividing the range by ecoregions–not genetic lineages–best captures observed differences in how the species responded to 20 mechanistic climatic variables. Many thanks to …
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Welcome, David Henderson!

We are happy to host David Henderson as part of his rotation at Washington University in St. Louis during the spring semester of 2019! David is interested in understanding biogeographic patterns using herbarium records. Many records are only “vaguely” georeferenced (i.e., to a county or similar political unit). Vague records can represent 40% or more …
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Prairie Zen

Local adaptation in a foundational grass “Prairie Zen” is the feeling one gets when gazing out across the endless grasslands of the Great Plains. But the endlessness belies sharp gradients in genetic and phenotypic diversity within Big Bluestem, the dominant grass of the region. Now out: Matt Galliart’s paper on local adaptation in this foundational …
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Niche estimation above and below the species level

If ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,’ then why model species as if they appeared through spontaneous creation? Now out: our paper on estimating niches while accounting for intra- and interspecific evolution! Smith, A.B., Godsoe, W., Rodríguez-Sánchez, F., Wang, H-H., and Warren, D. 2019. Niche estimation above and below the …
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Conservation of crop wild relatives

Just out: a two-volume set on conservation of North American crop wild relatives!  Adam had the honor of contributing to a chapter on threat assessment. “This chapter introduces the roles of conservation status and threat assessments in informing conservation priorities for crop wild relatives in North America and provides an overview of the current results …
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Welcome to our new postdoc, Stephen Murphy!

We are very excited to host Stephen, who is interested in combining aspects of biogeography and macroecology with his ongoing work in community ecology. Stephen graduated from Ohio State University, and is now supported by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services for developing and testing methods for using vaguely georeferenced and …
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Welcome to our new postdoc, Kelley Erickson!

We are excited to serve as the new intellectual home of Kelley Erickson, a recent graduate of the University of Miami where she studied the demography of the highly invasive shrub Schinus terebinthifolia (Brazilian peppertree). Kelley is working on incorporating issues related to detectability in species distribution models in a project sponsored by the Institute …
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NSF Advances in Biological Informatics

Awesome news! We were just informed that the National Science Foundation will fund our proposal to use pollen, genetic, and distributional data to estimate the spatial dynamics of how trees migrated poleward after the last glacial maximum.  This is a collaborative project with Sean Hoban (Morton Arboretum), Andria Dawson (Mount Royal University), John Robinson (Michigan …
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bayesLopod: Species distribution modeling with “messy” data

Collectively, biodiversity databases represent over a billion specimens and sightings of species.  Unfortunately, quite often 60-90% or more of that data does not meet the standards necessary for biogeographic analysis: coordinates are missing or blatantly wrong, dates are missing, and some identifications can be questionable.  Typically this data is discarded before analysis, even though it …
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Upscaling biodiversity

Our long-awaited paper on predicting country-scale biodiversity from small plots is out! Of 19 “upscaling” techniques, the most successful method was able to predict total plant richness in the United Kingdom with <10% error, though few techniques were able to recreate the shape of the actual species-area relationship. Kunin, W.E., Harte, J., He, Fangliang, Hui, …
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Phenotypic distribution modeling

Our latest paper in Global Change Biology on modeling intraspecific phenotypic variation has gotten great press!  Combined, the news outlets covering our research reach ~78 million people and included The San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, US News and World Report, The Topeka Capital Journal, The Manhattan Mercury, and numerous other regional newspapers, radio stations (e.g., KWMU 90.7), TV …
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Climate paths and climate change communication

How can we communicate global warming to local audiences (= everybody who lives in a place)? Recently I made a poster showing the locations that climatically currently resemble the future climate of St. Louis. But how did I know where to locate the “future” St. Louis climatically?  By running species distribution models in “reverse”.  First, I …
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