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IBL Spotlight - Evolution and Biodiversity

Thursday 29 June 2023
IBL Spotlights
Sylvius Building

The botanical consequences of megafauna extinctions

Many plants have evolved traits in response to interactions with megafaunal animals, such as large, ‘megafaunal’ fruits or defence traits (e.g., spines). However, two major global extinction events in Earth’s history impacted terrestrial megafauna dramatically: The Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs, and the much more recent Late Pleistocene and Holocene extinctions of many megafaunal mammals, reptiles, and large birds. The eco-evolutionary consequences of these extinction events for plants that were pre-adapted to interact with megafauna remain poorly explored. In this talk, I will apply phylogenetic comparative, population genetic and statistical methods to phylogenetic, distribution, genomic, and plant –frugivore seed dispersal interaction data to show how megafaunal extinctions have affected the diversification, trait evolution, population structure, genetic diversity, extinction risk, and geographical range size of megafauna-adapted plant lineages. I will discuss how the disruption of mutualistic and antagonistic interactions affect plant evolution, survival, and persistence in defaunated landscapes.

Please remember the lecture starts at 16:00. Bring your coffee or tea and have a chat with your colleagues from 15:30 to 16:00.

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