Integrating eco-evolutionary data from islands to infer biodiversity dynamics

Berkeley Distinguished Lectures in Data Science


November 13, 2018
4:10pm to 5:00pm
190 Doe Library
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A central challenge in understanding the origins of biodiversity is that, while we can observe and test local ecological phenomena, we must usually infer the longer-term outcomes of these ecological forces indirectly. My colleagues and I have been developing inferential models at the interface between macroecology and population-level processes, and applying them to data from geological chronosequences that present communities of different ages. Inferences from these “snapshots in time” provide a link between direct observational methods for local communities and models that make indirect inferences underlying community history. We use data from multiple insular systems, each comprising replicated sites that range from <500 to >5 million years. In this way we can directly link ecological theories and models of community composition within a temporal framework so as to understand the history underlying patterns of species diversity. The approach bridges ecological and evolutionary theory to provide a framework for making predictions about biodiversity dynamics.

The Berkeley Distinguished Lectures in Data Science, co-hosted by the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) and the Berkeley Division of Data Sciences, features Berkeley faculty doing visionary research that illustrates the character of the ongoing data revolution.  This lecture series is offered to engage our diverse campus community and enrich active connections among colleagues.  All campus community members are welcome and encouraged to attend. Arrive at 3:30 PM for light refreshments and discussion prior to the formal presentation.


Rosemary Gillespie

Professor; Environmental Science, Policy, and Management; UC Berkeley

Rosemary G. Gillespie holds the Schlinger Chair in Systematic Entomology. She is president elect of the American Genetics Association, past president of the International Biogeography Society, trustee and fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, senior editor for Molecular Ecology, and associate editor for Journal of Biogeography. Her primary research uses islands as model systems to understand ecological and evolutionary processes. Hotspot archipelagoes, such as Hawaii, provide a temporal framework of islands that allows one to synthesize ecological and evolutionary perspectives. She uses this framework to integrate macroecological (interaction networks and maximum entropy inference) and evolutionary (population genetics and phylogenetics) approaches to build a predictive understanding of the dynamic interplay between ecology and evolution in shaping the ecology of complex ecosystems.

As part of her interest in biodiversity dynamics, she is co-lead of the UC Berkeley Institute for Global Change Biology (BiGCB), which aims to develop a universal protocol for guiding global change research, for example, in characterizing the early warning signs that precede irreparable damage to ecosystems. This effort involves building the informatics infrastructure needed to access, visualize, and analyze the rich data associated with museum collections, field stations, and other data sources. One component involves ways to accelerate the rate of digitization of label data through crowdsourcing (Notes from Nature).