From July 23-25, 2018 a group of 24 geologists, biologists, and paleontologists convened as a working group at the University of Michigan to discuss processes of diversification. The meeting was part of a National Science Foundation-funded Research Coordination Network, “Mammal diversification in dynamic landscapes,” organized by Catherine Badgley, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

The meeting started with a one-day symposium, “Diversification in dynamic landscapes,” that was open to anyone interested and occurred at the Research Museums Center. Twelve presentations were given by members of the working group. About 50 people attended the workshop. The next two days were devoted to discussions and breakout groups that met in the Biological Sciences Building and focused on the landscape history of western North America, its fossil record of small mammals, and relevant datasets and modeling approaches for addressing questions about how speciation, extinction, adaptation, and geographic-range shifts respond to major changes in terrestrial landscapes. Participants in the workshop included faculty and graduate students from universities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland and Sweden.

Three themes emerged in the symposium and workshop, according to Badgley. “One was the need to integrate aspects of earth history, such as mountain building and climate change, with changes in biodiversity so as to test hypotheses about causes of changing rates of speciation and extinction over time,” she said. “A second theme was recognition of the challenges of integrating data from the fossil record with data from molecular phylogenies, along with ideas for analyses incorporating both. A third theme involved the question of when speciation involves divergence of ecological traits or replication of ecologically similar species in different regions. The fossil and modern mammals of western North America, in combination with geologic history of the region, provide an excellent opportunity for addressing these questions.”

Image above, from left to right: Brian Yanites (University of Indiana), Ran Feng (Univ of Connecticut), Catherine Badgley (U-M EEB), Katie Loughney (kneeling, U-M EARTH), Marjorie Matocq (Univ of Nevada, Reno), Joaquín Arroyo-Cabrales (kneeling, National Institute of Anthropology, Mexico), Daniele Silvestro (Univ of Gothenberg, Sweden), Don Swiderski (U-M Kellogg Ear Center), Adolfo Pacheco (National University of Mexico), Graham Slater (Univ of Chicago), Edward Davis (Univ of Oregon), William Holt (Stony Brook University), Tara Smiley (kneeling, Oregon State Univ), Miriam Zelditch (U-M, Museum of Paleontology), Nate Upham (Yale Univ), Tereza Jezkova (Miami University, Ohio), John Finarelli (Univ College Dublin), Rebecca Terry (kneeling, Oregon State Univ), Maya Stokes (MIT), Alireza Bahadori (Stony Brook Univ). Other participants not pictured: David Fox (Univ of Minnesota), Brett Riddle (Univ of Nevada, Las Vegas), Bian Wang (U-M EARTH).