The fact that some lineages harbour hundreds of species while others present just a few has intrigued naturalists and evolutionary biologists over centuries. Such variation in species richness may result from a series of biological, historical, and geographical factors that impact directly on rates of diversification and extinction across lineages. Thus, a better comprehension of the patterns and causes underlying changes in diversification rates between organisms are crucial for a deeper understanding of factors driving the origin and maintenance of biological diversity. This project aims to reconstruct the phylogeny of Amphilophium (Bignonieae, Bignoniaceae, Lamiales), a very diverse genus of Neotropical lianas, in order to explore the relative role played by "key innovations" (i.e., morphological novelties) and "key opportunities" (i.e., occupation of new niches) in shaping patterns of diversification among lineages within the genus. Amphilophium is extremely diverse morphologically and ecologically, as well as broadly distributed geographically, which makes this group an excellent model to test specific hypotheses about the drivers of diversification in the Neotropics. Furthermore, large portions of the genus have been revised taxonomically and a couple fossils have been described for the tribe Bignonieae, in which the genus is inserted, facilitating evolutionary and biogeographical studies in this group. This proposal is part of a broader project that uses different organisms to study the assembly of the Amazonian Biota and its environment (FAPESP Processo 2012/50260-6), a region in which the genus Amphilophium is particularly diverse.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: