South American tropical forests are among the most biodiverse, complex, and less known ecosystems on Earth. This project, funded by the NSF Frontiers in Earth Systems Dynamics program, aims at unravelling the climatic, geological, geomorphological, and ecological drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem function in the Amazon/Andean forests during the last tens of million years. Our hypothesis is that the geological history of the Andes and Amazon basin shaped the distribution and diversity of plant species, and is thus encoded in their genetic characteristics. In turn, molecular phylogenetics is envisioned to inform geological history, generating a two way information flow between the history of the physical environment and biodiversity patterns – the new cross-disciplinary field of ‘geo-genomics’.

Website: http://eas2.unl.edu/~sfritz/amazon/

Article in Science News: http://news.sciencemag.org/environment/2015/10/feature-how-amazon-became-crucible-life

 
Amazon forest
Amazon forest