Paleo-biogeography and Macroecology

3 Credits

Contact: Bertrand LEFEBVRE

For more than two centuries, the geography of the living world has been questioned: evolutionary history, geographical and climatic constraints and ecosystem functioning appear to be the main biotic and abiotic drivers of spatio-temporal variations in species distribution (biogeography) and, more broadly, of biodiversity (macroecology). In the fossil record as well as in present-day nature, numerous examples illustrate the modalities of action of these drivers as well as their consequences, outlining different universal 'rules' and patterns that this course proposes to explore (e.g., diversity gradients, eco-geographic 'laws', species-area relationships, insularity syndromes). Prior to the critical analysis of these 'rules' and patterns, particular attention will be paid to the methodologies underlying the development of chrono- and geo-referenced databases.

A pteraspidomorph (Sacabambaspis) swims in the Ordovician Ocean under the anachronistic gaze of two Quaternary island species: the giant non-flying galliform from New Caledonia Sylviornis neocaledoniae (right) and the dwarf hominin from Flores Homo floresiensis (left, compared to its ancestor H. erectus). Species appearing, evolving, migrating and finally becoming extinct on a planet in permanent change, notably geographical and climatic: life is not, and has never been, a bed of roses!