Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM
WHY GEOLOGISTS, PALEONTOLOGISTS, AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGISTS NEED EACH OTHER
Time is long past for scientists such as Isaac Newton and Alexander von Humboldt who could master and significantly contribute to many different fields of science. In the hundreds of years that followed, geology, paleontology, and biology would go disparate ways and explode in complexity. After such a long and sometimes bitter divorce, are we now heading towards a re-unification? In this talk I will explore ongoing efforts to merge data, methods, and results across these three disciplines. I will particularly focus on how the use of dated molecular phylogenies may be used to test and refine inferences from the geological and paleontological records. My examples will include our current work on: i) the closure of the Panama Isthmus and the Great American Biotic Interchange; ii) the Andean uplift and landscape changes in northern South America; iii) the assembly of species-rich biomes and altitudinal ecozones; and iv) the estimation of speciation and extinction rates through time and in relation to geological and climatic changes. As a major step to achieve these goals, we are currently developing an automated workflow that integrates biological, paleontological, and geological data to estimate dispersal, speciation, and extinction among and within user-defined areas. Although more data and methodological advances are badly needed, I will argue that only multi-disciplinary projects may be able to provide robust inferences to some of the most crucial questions in natural sciences.