Endless forms - advances in evolutionary analyses of biodiversity - a PeerJ Collection


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The origins of biodiversity is one of the key questions of evolutionary biology. From the origins of tropical ecosystems to modern methods of reconstructing the key of life, the origin of biodiversity presents conceptual and technical challenges on many fronts. The efforts to map the history of the 1.2 million described species on Earth is a daunting task, but even more challenging is the goal of describing the processes by which these species arose. The series of essays in this collection, in the form of literature reviews, represents an attempt to describe recent efforts by leading scholars to understand the origins of biodiversity, and more importantly, to provide a glimpse of where the future of these efforts might be heading. Although each essay addresses a highly challenging and complex topic, we hope that they will provide readers with up to date perspectives on each subdiscipline.

These essays are the product of a series of 4-5 day workshops hosted between April and June 2017 by the Gothenburg Centre for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology, a joint program by Chalmers University of Technology and Gothenburg University in Gothenburg, Sweden. The five topics covered by the workshops are: The Origins of Tropical Biodiversity; Sexual Selection and Sperm Competition: Large Scale Phylogenomics and Phylogeography; Host-Pathogen Interactions in the Genomic Era; and The Role of Museum Collections in Modern Evolutionary Biology. Each workshop convened 15-20 world experts on each topic with an emphasis on participants from Europe, the United States and South America. The choice of topics and selection of participants was jointly made by international visiting chair, Scott Edwards of Harvard University and faculty in evolutionary biology at the University of Gothenburg. By hosting each workshop at Chalmers University of Technology, mathematicians and statisticians were able to contribute to the fundamental research of each workshop. The result was a wide-ranging discourse on diverse and cutting-edge topics in evolutionary biology.

In addition, the Collection will include a selection of original research articles from the participants' labs, showcasing and complementing some of the key aspects discussed in the literature reviews, such as the use of genomic data to infer evolutionary processes.

Each contribution represents a collaboration between scientists with diverse skill sets and perspectives and hopefully captures some of the tensions and opportunities of modern evolutionary biology, particularly as it embraces genomics in pursuit of a comprehensive theory of the origins of biodiversity.

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