Life in Landscape Evolution Models: Investigations of Climate and Tectonics as Drivers of Biological Evolution
Climate and tectonics ultimately drive the physical and chemical surface processes that evolve landscape structure, including the connectivity of landscape portions that facilitate or impede movement of organismal populations. Connectivity controls population spatial distribution, drives speciation where populations spatially fragment, and increases extinction susceptibility of species where its habitat shrinks. Here I demonstrate the role that landscape evolution models can have in exploring these process linkages in investigations of species diversification driven by climatic and tectonic forcings. The models were built with the tool, SpeciesEvolver that constructs lineages in response to environmental change at geologic, macroevolutionary, and landscape scales. I will also suggest how future studies can use landscape evolution models and tools such as SpeciesEvolver to pursue questions regarding the mechanisms by which lineages respond to the drivers and details of landscape evolution, and taxon-specific and region-specific interactions between biotas and their environments.