Why biodiversity is distributed on Earth as it does? What is the signature of historical and evolutionary processes on the patterns we observe today? How could our understanding of past events contribute to predict the future in a changing world? These are among the central questions in which my research is focused. Macroecological and macroevolutionary scales are appropriate to approach to these issues, particularly the interplay between past and current determinants of biodiversity or the relative roles of evolution and ecology as drivers of diversification. Debate around these matters is long-standing and luckily we are reaching a point where availability of data (i.e. phylogenies, species distributions, fossils, palaeoclimatic and palaeogeographic reconstructions) allows macroecological research moving beyond pattern observation to identify the underlying processes. More specifically, my research aims:
(1) Reaching a better understanding in trait based studies of how different aspects of the species’ niches are evolutionarily conserved.
(2) Incorporating fossil and extinctions information into distribution models that will enable more accurate predictions of the future.
(3) Incorporating physiological factors as a way to determine how far realized niches are from potential niches.
(4) Understanding and modeling the factors that are relevant to explain the evolutionary process, this is, whether evolutionary divergence is related to ecological or other historical biogeographical aspects.
Although my work has focused primarily in terrestrial vertebrates, I have also collaborated in projects studying marine mammals, plants and insects, as well as in more applied studies related to the effects of forest fragmentation on biodiversity.
Terribile, L. C., Olalla-Tarraga, M. A., Morales-Castilla, I., Rueda, M., Vidanes, R. M., Rodríquez, M. A. & Diniz-Filho, J. A. F. (2009) Global richness patterns of venomous snakes reveal contrasting influences of ecology and history in two different clades. Oecologia, 159: 617 – 626.
Bini, L. M., Diniz-Filho, J. A. F., Rangel, T. F. L. V. B., Akre, T. S. B., Albaladejo, R. G., Albuquerque, F. S., Aparicio, A., Araújo, M. B., Baselga, A., Beck, Jan, Bellocq, M. I., Böhning-Gaese, K., Borges, P. A. V., Castro-Parga, I., Chey, V. K., Chown, S. L., de Marco Jr, P., Dobkin, D. S., Ferrer-Castán, D., Field, R., Filloy, J., Fleishman, E., Gómez, J. F., Hortal, J., Iverson, J. B., Kerr, J. T., Kissling, W. D., Kitching, I. J., León-Cortés, J. L., Lobo, J. M., Montoya, D., Morales-Castilla, I., Moreno, J. C., Oberdorff, T., Olalla-Tárraga, M. Á., Pausas, J. G., Qian, H., Rahbek, C., Rodríguez, M. Á., Rueda, M., Ruggiero, A., Sackmann, P., Sanders, N. J., Terribile, L. C.,Vetaas, O. R., & Hawkins, B. A. (2009) Coefficient shifts in geographical ecology: An empirical evaluation on spatial and non-spatial regression. Ecography, 32: 1 – 12.
Morales-Castilla, I., Olalla-Tárraga, M. Á., Bini, L. M., de Marco Jr, P., Hawkins, B. A. & Rodríguez, M. Á. (2011) Niche conservatism and species richness patterns of squamate reptiles in eastern and southern Africa. Austral Ecology, 36: 550 – 558.
Diniz-Filho, J.A.F., Bini, L.M., Rangel, T.F., Morales-Castilla, I., Olalla-Tárraga, M.Á., Rodríguez, M.Á. & Hawkins B.A. (2012) On the selection of phylogenetic eigenvectors for ecological analyses. Ecography, 35: 239 – 249.
Morales-Castilla, I., Rodríguez, M. Á. & Hawkins, B. A. (2012) Deep phylogeny, net primary productivity and the global bird body size gradient. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 106: 880 – 892.
Morales-Castilla, I., Olalla-Tárraga, M. Á., Purvis, A., Hawkins, B. A. & Rodríguez, M. Á. (2012) The imprint of Cenozoic migrations and evolutionary history on the biogeographic gradient of body size in New World mammals. The American Naturalist, 180: 246 – 256.