University of Cambridge > > Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series > Freshwater fliers in changing landscapes: Diversity and evolution of African dragonflies and damselflies

Freshwater fliers in changing landscapes: Diversity and evolution of African dragonflies and damselflies

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Environmental change affects aquatic insects, like dragonflies, directly by determining the density, scale, permanence, character and vegetation of their habitats. Adult flight also facilitates a direct response to such changes, limiting the potential of geological factors in their evolution. Africa experienced greater climatic variation in the last 16 million years than other tropics, with a trend towards drier conditions, and the climate is still more seasonal, more irregular and drier than in tropical Asia and America. This change induced extensive extinctions, especially in warm and wet environments, but also gave rise to species that could straddle environmental and dispersal barriers as new habitat became continuously available. Given Africa’s comparatively great topological continuity and tectonic stability, ecological factors may have contributed disproportionally to the accumulation of its diversity. Dragonflies are among the few aquatic groups for which reasonable taxonomic, ecological and distributional overviews are feasible at continental levels, especially in Africa, yet have been broadly overlooked in research on diversification. The presentation aims to explore the potential of these “freshwater fliers” in understanding ecological diversification and the evolution of freshwater biodiversity.

This talk is part of the Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series series.

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