The global diversity of birds in space and time

In a new paper that will appear in Nature tomorrow, Walter Jetz and Colleagues “present, analyse and map the first complete dated phylogeny of all 9,993 extant species of birds, a widely studied group showing many unique adaptations.” The emphasis here is on the word “dated” – the study provides estimated diversification rates across the…

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Diversity-prodictivity relationship revisited

A recent paper by P. Adler et al., “Productivity Is a Poor Predictor of Plant Species Richness” deals with the relationship between productivity and diversity. The authors examine an old and, not surprisingly, debated doctrine of ecology, which is that there is generally a hump-shaped relationship between productivity and diversity (as an example of such…

Controversy about species-area versus endemics-area relationships for calculating extinction rates

I’m lagging a little behind the news, but maybe it’s also an advantage to write about this issue after the first smoke has cleared. The topic is a paper by Fangliang He and Stephen Hubbell that appeared in Nature two weeks ago and that has sparked considerable controversy. Basically, the authors claim that “conventional” extinction…