The Centre for Macroevolution and Macroecology brings together researchers from different departments and centres of the Australian National University, as well as our international collaborators. It is formed with the aim of fostering interdisciplinary work in macroevolution and macroecology. Meeting regularly allows us to cultivate an appreciation of each others’ points of view and encourage communication by developing a shared language. This provides a platform for productive interdisciplinary collaborations. Drinking a lot of coffee and wine together also helps.
What is Tempo and Mode?
The term “tempo and mode” was coined by G. G. Simpson, one of the architects of the modern synthesis of evolution. Simpson drew on observations from palaeontology and genetics to describe the variation in rate of evolution between different lineages and over evolutionary time (tempo) and the mechanisms driving these varying rates of change (mode). We think “tempo and mode” provides a useful description for a broad research program encompassing patterns and mechanisms of biodiversity generation and loss across time, space and lineages.
What are macroevolution and macroecology?
We are interested in broad-scale patterns in evolution and ecology. Typical questions in macroecology are: why are some places more biodiverse than others? Do local, regional or global factors influence which species are found at a particular site? How should we prioritorise global conservation effort to maximize the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystem function? Typical questions in macroevolution are: why are some lineages more species-rich than others? Is biodiversity generated continuously and gradually, or are there times when evolution leaps ahead? How do evolutionary novelties arise? Does evolution select for “evolvability”? Though commonly considered to be separate disciplines, macroevolution and macroecology are concerned with similar patterns and mechanisms, use many of the same research tools, and face similar challenges.