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Projects

Extending Bayesian Phylogenetics

Logo from Extending Bayesian Phylogenetics In recent years, Bayesian MCMC (Markov chain Monte Carlo) methods have become very popular for phylogenetic inference because of their statistical rigor and computational efficiency. Nevertheless, current phylogenetics implementations have not yet fully explored the power of this approach. This NIH-funded project is a collaboration between John Huelsenbeck (University of California, San Diego), Bret Larget (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Donald Simon (Duquesne University) and Paul van der Mark and Fredrik Ronquist in the Ronquist lab. The goal of the project is to extend Bayesian statistical analysis to much larger trees and more complex and realistic evolutionary models than those that can be analyzed today. These techniques will be made available in an easy-to-use program for Bayesian phylogenetic inference, called MrBayes.

MrBayes homepage

Morphbank

Logo from Morphbank MorphBank is an open web repository where biologists around the world can deposit images documenting comparative morphology, morphological phylogenetics, and biodiversity research. MorphBank currently contains thousands of images of various organism groups and we expect it to grow rapidly in the near future thanks to the current intense efforts to chart the biological diversity of our planet and to document the morphological evolution of major organism groups. MorphBank is currently developed by a large interdisciplinary team at the Florida State University, involving several members of the Ronquist lab. The MorphBank effort is also supported by numerous other institutions and research groups in the US and around the world. Among other things, current efforts in the MorphBank team include the development of easy-to-use client tools for image uploading, retrieval, and annotation of images in the database.

Official project home page

HymAToL

Logo from HymAToL HymAToL is a National Science Foundation funded AToL (Assembling the Tree of Life) project. The overall goal of HymAToL is to construct a robust large-scale phylogeny of the Hymenoptera, an insect order encompassing over 115,000 described species of bees, wasps, and ants. Hymenoptera species, contributing approximately 10% of the world\'s total faunal diversity, are thought to have a greater impact on ecosystem function than any other insect order, from nutrient cycling to pollination and control of herbivorous insect populations. To reconstruct relationships within Hymenoptera, HymAToL collaborators will use morphological characters, including those from fossils, and sequence data from at least five nuclear genes. Dense taxonomic sampling is proposed, both broadly across the order and within each superfamily.

Official project home page

PCC

The PCC Project (Proctotrupoidea, Cynipoidea, and Ceraphronoidea Project) is a part of the HymAToL grant to look specifically at relationships within these three superfamilies. Of the three, Cynipoidea is the most diverse and has been studied most extensively, but there remains many uncertainties in relationships, especially among the basal groups. The Proctotrupoidea is a contested superfamily with several recent studies suggesting paraphyly or polyphyly. And Ceraphronoidea is perhaps the least known of all the Hymenoptera superfamilies, with no phylogenetic study to date. All three groups have incredibly diverse biologies, and well-resolved phylogenies of each superfamily will allow us to explore host use, host shifts, diversification, and biogeography.

Official project home page

The Swedish Taxonomy Initiative

Launched in 2002 based on ideas developed by Ulf Gärdenfors and Fredrik Ronquist, the goal of this project is to document and scientifically describe all the estimated 60,000 multi-cellular species occurring in Sweden within 20 years. All species that can be identified without using advanced methodology will be presented in a well-illustrated Swedish Biodiversity Encyclopedia. The Encyclopedia will contain keys to all species, and the distribution, biology, and conservation biology of each species will be summarized. The project is coordinated by the Swedish Species Information Centre and involves a large number of systematists in Sweden and elsewhere. The Swedish Taxonomy Initiative, supported by the Swedish Crown Princess Victoria, is currently the world\'s largest all-taxon biodiversity inventory, with a total price tag of almost $200 million over the 20-year period. Two of the graduate students in the Ronquist lab, Dave Karlsson and Mattias Forshage, are doing taxonomic and systematic research on Palearctic parasitic wasps as part of the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative.

Official project home page