Adding Phylogenies to QGIS and Lifemapper for Evolutionary Studies of Species Diversity

Jeffery Cavner, Biodiversity Institute University of Kansas
Thursday 10:30 - 10:55
Session 1, Track 6, Slot 2

Phylogenetic data from the “Tree of Life” have explicit spatial and temporal components when paired with species distribution and ecological data for testing contributions to biological community assembly at different geographic scales of species interaction. Important questions in biology about the degree of niche suitability and whether the history of a community’s assembly for an area can affect whether the species in a community are more or less phylogenetically related can be answered using several different spatially-filtered measures of phylogenetic diversity. Phylogenetic analyses which support the description of ecological processes are usually achieved in a handful of software libraries that are narrowly focused on a single set of tasks. Very few applications scale to large datasets and most do not have an explicit spatial component without relying on external visualization packages. This prompted us to explore bringing phylogenetic data into an open-source GIS environment. The Lifemapper Macroecology/Range & Diversity QGIS plug-in is a custom plug-in which we use to calculate and map biodiversity indices that describe range-diversity relationships derived from large multi-species datasets. We describe extensions to that plug-in which expand the Lifemapper set of ecological tools to link phylogenies to spatially-derived ‘diversity field’ statistics that describe the phylogenetic composition of natural communities.